By TMHA Staff
Below you will find our selection of the top online PhD programs in healthcare administration for the 2016-2017 school year.
No one makes the decision to earn a PhD lightly. After all, a PhD can take five or more years to earn, and it often requires students to take on in-depth research projects and write lengthy dissertations. But for some, the potential payoff is worth the time commitment. In particular, the DHA degree is attractive to advanced students who want to pursue a career in research or policy. The PhD in healthcare administration, which is similar in scope by takes a slightly different focus to the DHA, is ideal for professionals who want to maximize their opportunities for leadership in industry/corporate positions.
Either way, aspiring researchers and administrators can both take advantage of the benefits of online learning. Online doctor of health administration programs often provide flexible scheduling, variable pacing, and additional course options – all of which will likely appeal to nontraditional learners and otherwise busy students.
Our methodology for the online PhD in healthcare administration degree ranking was fairly straightforward. The goal was to first identify the features of a PhD program that would be most important to healthcare professional and distance learners, and then model our scoring system on those features. After researching the various options, we decided to focus our ranking on three points:
- Academic depth
- Accessibility to online learners
To measure affordability, we collected data on graduate student tuition rates for the 2015-16 school year.
“Academic depth” is harder to quantify, but we did so by developing a scale to assess important aspects of the programs’ curricula. On this five-point scale, a hypothetical 1-point program (the lowest possible rank) might be too broad in its course focus or only incorporate healthcare administration topics as a potential research focus. In contrast, a hypothetical 5-point program would offer a rich selection of classes with a high proportion of relevant coursework related to healthcare, management, leadership, and other related topics.
To evaluate accessibility, we looked at each program’s on-campus requirements. We considered both the number of separate trips required and the total number of days an online learner should expect to spend on campus over the course of the degree.
We weighted academic depth and accessibility much more heavily than affordability in the final ranking. This tactic provided a way to prioritize quality over cost. That is, we wanted to give reasonably expensive colleges a fair shot while only eliminating the obscenely expensive and the moderately-expensive-but lower-quality schools.
In the end, our methodology produced a ranking of the top 15 PhD healthcare administration degrees online. The scores range from nearly 70 to a full 100 points, and two-thirds of the programs cost less than $20,000 a year!
15. Antioch University-Los Angeles
Culver City, CA
Online PhD in Leadership and Change for Healthcare
Since its founding in 1852, Antioch has expanded from a tiny liberal arts school based in Ohio to a multi-state university with locations across the country. But the school has not allowed this expansion to affect its character as a small, humanities-focused institution, and today it offers a highly theoretical and collaborative DHA degree in the best tradition of the liberal arts. Antioch’s accredited doctorate of healthcare administration online primarily consists of weekly virtual activities along with several face-to-face residences each year. However, program members also have access to the school’s international residences, which enable them to acquire a global healthcare perspective that just isn’t possible at other online schools.
Graduate Tuition: $16,716/yr
14. University of Illinois Chicago
Online Doctor of Public Health in Leadership
The flexibility of the top online doctor of health administration at the University of Illinois Chicago makes it perfect for mid-career public health professionals. Working adults will no doubt appreciate the school’s two different formats for online coursework: asynchronous to accommodate busy or shifting schedules, and synchronous for students who are able to log on each evening to take classes. UI Chicago also offers an annual summer institute for all of its Public Health Leadership doctoral students to facilitate discussion and collaboration on important topics in the field. The school sees this yearly gathering as an essential ingredient in what makes its degree one of the best online PhD health administration programs in the country.
Graduate Tuition: $20,956/yr
13. University of Alabama Birmingham
Online Executive Doctor of Science Degree in Administration-Health Services
Those looking to gain a global perspective as a part of their accredited doctorate of healthcare administration online should look closely at the University of Alabama Birmingham, which provides abundant opportunities to learn about the healthcare systems of other countries. Most notably, the school offers a capstone study abroad experience where doctoral students explore their chosen nation’s healthcare system in-depth. Previous students have visited Brazil, France, the Czech Republic, and Sweden, among many others. Of course, UA Birmingham is proud of its global reputation, having provided classes to students in every continent (with the exception of Antarctica)!
Graduate Tuition: $11,984/yr
12. Regent University
Virginia Beach, VA
Online Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL): Healthcare Leadership Concentration
Founded by former Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson, Regent University is ideal for students looking for a faith-based and affordable online PhD in healthcare administration. The university’s Christian identity informs every facet of its online learning, its Doctor of Strategic Leadership with a concentration in Healthcare Leadership. Unlike some of the other Christian institutions on this online doctor of health administration ranking, Regent’s degree includes several explicitly religious courses, such as Leadership Faith & Ethics and Applied Exegetical Studies. As such, the program is uniquely suited to professionals with a desire to utilize Christian principles in their management styles and careers as a whole.
Graduate Tuition: $14,925/yr
11. Rutgers University New Brunswick
New Brunswick, NJ
Online PhD in Health Sciences: Interdisciplinary Track (Health Leadership)
Rutgers doesn’t provide a traditional accredited PhD in healthcare management online. Instead, the school offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences that can be customized with an Interdisciplinary Studies track. Thankfully, Rutgers’ robust course selection makes it easy to focus on healthcare leadership as a part of this interdisciplinary degree. Classes like Leadership in the Health Profession and Quality and Leadership in Health Care are just two examples of the relevant, management-focused courses on offer. In fact, it’s possible to fill nearly all of the 18 electives required to graduate with courses in healthcare administration. Rutgers’ terrific reputation and flexibility of online courses (in 8- and fifteen-week formats) make it a strong option even without a designated DHA program.
Graduate Tuition: $24,034/yr
10. MCPHS University
Online Doctor of Health Sciences (DHS): Healthcare Administration
MCPHS takes a unique approach to on-campus learning requirements. Instead of annual residencies, the university only requires students to visit campus three times during their entire course of study: once for orientation, and then twice more to work on their dissertations. The latter visits provide the perfect opportunity for students to receive in-person assistance from faculty as they tackle challenging research projects. As for coursework, MCPHS’s accredited online PhD in healthcare administration shares its core curriculum with an Academic Health Sciences concentration, so the foundational classes focus strongly on theory and research. However, the 15 credit-hour Healthcare Administration concentration covers plenty of practical subjects like operations management, healthcare organizations, and even a communication and negotiation course.
Graduate Tuition: $20,550/yr
9. Liberty University
Online Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) – Healthcare Management
Because Liberty University offers its top online doctor of health administration through a Doctor of Business Administration, the 48 hours of core courses strongly emphasize business. Students interested in this aspect of healthcare administration will appreciate the coursework in forecasting and modeling, supply chain management, and executive coaching. Liberty’s degree also focuses on human resource management, both within a traditional business context (through an HR development seminar) and specifically in a healthcare setting. And although Liberty is a Christian university with an evangelical background, none of the classes in its online PhD health administration program explicitly touch on issues of faith.
Graduate Tuition: $8,000/yr
8. University of South Florida
Online Doctor of Public Health: Health Policy and Administration
The University of South Florida’s Doctor of Public Health offers a broader education than many of the other schools on this list. As a public health program, many of the courses emphasize practice-based learning over research and theory, making it ideal for professionals who want to pursue leadership roles at non-profit or community-based healthcare organizations. In addition, the curriculum features “focus areas” over specific concentrations. This means that students can use their elective credits to augment their training in a particular area. Suggested focuses include Global Health, Environmental Health, and Health Policy and Administration. The latter option provides an opportune pathway for students seeking a top PhD in healthcare management online (although a one-week summer intensive at the Tampa campus is required).
Graduate Tuition: $15,776/yr
7. A.T. Still University
Online Doctor of Health Administration
A.T. Still University is the only osteopathic medical school on this online DHA degree ranking. In fact, it was the world’s first institution to specialize in that branch of medicine! With a focus on joint and bone manipulation, osteopathic medicine is a highly specialized field, but A.T. Still has grown to offer a wide range of related degree programs, including the Doctor of Healthcare Administration. The school’s DHA is available entirely online and, despite ATSU’s mission and origins, doesn’t touch on osteopathic medicine except as part of a broader focus on “whole person healthcare.”
Graduate Tuition: $31,493/yr
6. Medical University of South Carolina
Online DHA Executive Program
Students pursuing MUSC’s accredited doctorate of healthcare administration online can choose from three tracks: Executive, Interprofessional Studies and Leadership, and Information Systems and Leadership. Each of these tracks has different admissions and academic requirements, but all three provide an impressive level of specialization within the core healthcare administration coursework. Not only that, but the degree also features four “clusters” of skill areas apart from the concentrations. Each of these clusters addresses a different area of training, such as research or health policy. Even among the best online PhD health administration programs, MUSC stands out for both the breadth and depth of its curricular reach.
Graduate Tuition: $21,183/yr
5. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI
Online Doctor of Health Administration
CMU is the only institution on this online PhD in healthcare administration ranking to use a cohort-based structure, leveraging the collaborative format to bring students together from a wide range of backgrounds. The school also hosts six intensive, two and a half day seminars that encourage program members to connect and share professional insights. Always sensitive to the needs of online learners, CMU doesn’t just offer these seminars on campus; it also hosts gatherings at other sites across the country, including Atlanta, Detroit, and Washington, DC. The program even hosts a seminar in Geneva, Switzerland! Students may also choose to swap out two of these seminars for international travel courses, providing an unusual study abroad component for interested globetrotters.
Graduate Tuition: $14,685/yr
4. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, CO
Online Doctor of Management – Healthcare Management and Leadership
The core coursework for Colorado Technical University’s affordable online doctor of health administration features a balanced spread of both professional business and theoretical research topics. In other words, students can expect to take classes that impart essential management and leadership skills as well as a heavy dose of statistics and theory. One unusual feature of CTU’s program is the option to complete an MBA or MSM while simultaneously working toward the school’s Doctor of Management. This option enables students to get an early start on post-master’s work even if they haven’t completed a master’s degree. As an added bonus, it also provides a quicker route to graduation for those with busy schedules.
Graduate Tuition: $13,356/yr
3. Franklin University
Online Doctor of Healthcare Administration
Taking an unusually kind and compassionate approach to the dissertation process, Franklin University has established a “no fear” program that offers considerably more guidance than most schools. Students worried about the stress of this intimidating project will no doubt appreciate the assistance, which includes strong peer and faculty mentoring. But Franklin’s sensitivity to the student experience goes far beyond this one program. In fact, the university regularly conducts surveys and structural reviews in an effort to improve the quality of its online degrees. All else aside, this dedication to growth alone probably qualifies Franklin as one of the best PhD in healthcare management online degrees in the country.
Graduate Tuition: $15,240/yr
2. University of Mississippi Medical Center
Online Doctor of Health Administration
What makes the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s program one of the best is its purpose-built nature. That is, instead of layering a healthcare track on top of a core business curriculum, UMMC’s top doctorate of healthcare administration online is made up entirely of classes specific to health and management topics. The range of courses available to students is practically unparalleled, from healthcare-focused business courses like “Organizational Behavior for Health Professions” to specialized industry topics such as “Current Trends in Accreditation & Licensure.” UMMC’s degree is intended for part-time, non-traditional students and therefore has minimal in-person requirements, making it ideal for busy professionals from all across the country.
Graduate Tuition: $14,059/yr
1. Arizona State University
Online Doctor of Behavioral Health with a Concentration in Management
ASU’s top online DHA degree is unconventional, to say the least. Actually, it’s not a DHA at all; it’s a Doctor of Behavioral Health with a concentration in Management. But the selection of coursework available to ASU students is nearly unparalleled, and the degree is broad enough to apply to a wide range of healthcare fields. Of course, this is also a particularly strong option for professionals with an interest in mental/behavioral health, especially due to its focus on improved patient care. But regardless of their career goals, ASU encourages all DBH students to check out courses from two of its other unique programs – Science of Healthcare Delivery and Healthcare Innovation – which only serves to further expand online learners’ access to unique and interesting classes.
Graduate Tuition: $17,289/yr
This concludes our ranking of the best online doctor of healthcare administration degrees.