Best Doctorate in Healthcare Management Programs

Oct 20, 2021

Healthcare Management Doctorate Overview

The field of healthcare management focuses on the leadership and management skills needed to run health organizations effectively and efficiently. Degree programs in this field aim to equip students with necessary knowledge in business, management, and the ever-changing field of the healthcare system. Doctorate degree programs in healthcare management aim to prepare students for advanced positions that focus on the bigger picture and long-term goals for entire health organizations, whereas doctoral degrees in healthcare administration focus on preparing professionals for more day-to-day operations of different departments or areas within a healthcare organization. However, students in either type of degree program can commonly overlap with the jobs that they pursue. While there are online doctoral degrees in healthcare administration available, here we will focus on on-campus doctoral degrees in healthcare management.

What Doctoral Degrees in Healthcare Management Are Available?

Although there are related doctoral degrees in areas such as human services, occupational therapy, and other specific areas of healthcare, doctoral degree programs in healthcare management are the most practical for students wanting to move into leadership roles. However, there are many doctoral degree programs to choose from in the field. For example, there are Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Healthcare Management programs, as well as doctoral degrees in public health, such as a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and management, such as a Doctor of Management, that offer concentrations in healthcare management and leadership. Students can also pursue a traditional Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Healthcare Management. The different types of degree programs still prepare students for advanced roles in healthcare management, but may vary slightly on the types of courses they offer. For instance, business programs may include more business-oriented courses, while public health programs may include more health-based coursework.

Admissions Requirements for Healthcare Management Doctoral Programs

The admissions requirements and processes for doctoral programs in healthcare management vary by the college or university. However, interested students typically need to fill out the appropriate application after ensuring that they meet all of the program's eligibility requirements. Some programs require applicants to take and submit their test scores for the GRE or GMAT exams, but many programs do not have a specific threshold that students must meet. It is also common for these programs to require students to include various supplemental materials with their applications, including transcripts, a resume or CV, and letters of recommendation. Depending on the program, students who are selected after the application review may be required to complete an interview process that usually takes place on campus.

Educational & Professional Prerequisites for Healthcare Management Doctorate Students

The educational and professional background requirements for doctoral programs in healthcare management also vary. Most commonly, these doctoral programs require applicants to hold a master's degree. Some programs may accept students from different educational backgrounds, such as business, public health, healthcare management, or social science. Depending on the program, students could be required to have so many credits of prior coursework in a given area. For instance, some DBA programs in healthcare management may require applicants to have at least 30 credits of business-related graduate-level coursework. Sometimes, students will also need to meet GPA requirements, such as a 3.0 or higher in their prior graduate coursework. Often, healthcare professionals with years of work experience may also be interested and accepted into these programs, such as doctors, nurses, and dentists.

Accreditation for Healthcare Management Doctorate Programs

Students interested in any type of degree program should always try to attend an accredited institution, as degrees from these schools are usually preferred by employers. Regional accreditation applies to the school as a whole and all of its various degree programs to help ensure that programs have met standards set for quality. However, these standards are general in nature, and some programs hold program-level accreditation that is more specific to the area of study. For instance, some DBA programs in healthcare management are accredited by business-related organizations, such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This indicates that the program has met academic standards specific to the field of business. Some programs in healthcare management may also align the curriculum with standards set by the American College of Healthcare Executives, which may also stand out to employers.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Doctorate in Healthcare Management?

The time that it takes to complete a doctorate in healthcare management varies by school and program. In general, these programs are designed to be completed in 4 to 5 years, with the first couple of years dedicated to coursework and the last portion of the program dedicated to writing one's dissertation. However, some programs may allow students to finish their degree a little faster. For example, there are online DBA programs in the field that allow students to earn their degree in as little as 3 years.

Healthcare Management Doctoral Coursework

The coursework requirements for doctoral programs in healthcare management are also unique to the type of program. Many business-related doctoral programs, such as a DBA or Doctor of Management, usually have more core business course requirements than other degree programs. In general, doctoral students take some core courses that cover main business and leadership concepts and foundations, as well as extensive research-related coursework, such as courses in statistical methods and data analysis. Other business-related core courses could include topics in microeconomics, business research, management theory, and ethics. Then, students take required healthcare-related courses in the healthcare management concentration. These courses aim to equip students with skills and knowledge specific to the field of healthcare. For instance, students could potentially take courses in topics such as healthcare leadership, healthcare marketing, healthcare informatics, healthcare administration, health policy, and healthcare finance. Programs usually consist of 60 to 100 credits, including dissertation credits.

Preparing Your Healthcare Management Dissertation

Most doctoral programs in healthcare management require students to complete an original dissertation in a given area of interest. These extensive projects aim to further develop students' research skills as they explore a hypothesis, collect data and information, and analyze their findings. Typically, doctoral programs help students break this long process up into various steps to ensure that each requirement of the project is met and that students work on it over time. Somewhere along the way, usually, after coursework is completed, students have to take their comprehensive exams to reach candidacy status. Students who begin working on their dissertation may sign up for different credits that are assigned to different steps in the process. For example, several programs offer multiple dissertation course credits that focus on areas such as an introduction/overview of the dissertation process, literature review, methods, findings, discussion, and conclusions. Students are then required to present and defend their dissertation.

What Other Types of Healthcare Management Degrees Are There?

Healthcare management degree programs are common at all levels of study. Undergraduate and graduate students alike can usually choose from several different kinds of degree programs available in the field. All of these programs aim to further develop students' leadership abilities and specific knowledge of the healthcare field. Many healthcare management degree programs are available in online and on-campus formats, so students can choose which format best fits their personal schedule and preferences. Find out more about the different degree levels of healthcare management below.

Healthcare Management Associate Degrees

Students can choose from several different associate degree programs in healthcare management, such as Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), or Associate of Applied Business (AAB) degrees. These degrees commonly require at least 60 credits of coursework and are widely available online. Usually, these degree programs can be easily transferred to a 4-year school for students who want to complete their bachelor's degree in the field. Some of these programs also help prepare students for professional certifications in the field, such as the Certified Professional Coder designation or the Certified Physician Practice Management credential from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

Healthcare Management Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in healthcare management are the most common, but other degrees, such as Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees, are also available. Some of these programs are available in online formats for flexibility. There are also programs available that include practicum and other hands-on learning experiences to provide students with real-world training in the field. Depending on the program, students may have the option to earn additional certifications, such as a senior living management certificate.

Healthcare Management Master's Degrees

Students have several different degree options at the master's level, including a Master of Healthcare Management, Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Master of Management in the field. These programs can usually be completed in about 2 years and may offer different areas of concentration, such as healthcare compliance or healthcare leadership. Online programs are common, and some may conclude with a capstone experience to help students apply what they have learned throughout the program to a particular project of some kind.

Healthcare Management Graduate Certificates

There are graduate certificate programs available in a variety of healthcare-related areas, including graduate certificates in public health and healthcare analytics. Graduate certificate programs specifically in healthcare management are designed for those looking to enter the field who may not have prior educational experience in healthcare management. These programs can usually be finished in 6 months to 1 year and commonly require between 12 and 15 credits of coursework. Several schools allow students to count credits from these certificate programs towards a master's degree.

Career Options & Salary Outlook for Healthcare Management Doctoral Graduates

There is no shortage of potential careers available in the field of health management. Students can search for careers based on the level of education, as there are healthcare management jobs that require certificates all the way up to advanced degrees. There are also some top careers in healthcare for job security, as well as healthcare specialists' career options. In general, graduates with their doctorate in the field of healthcare management are prepared to take on advanced positions within their organization. They may work as upper-level managers, executives, and other leadership roles. Explore a few job options here.

Become a Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers include a range of job titles, such as clinical managers, health information managers, healthcare administrators, and nursing home administrators. Typically, these professionals need at least a bachelor's degree, but advanced degrees may be preferred. They also usually need some prior work experience related to the area in which they work, such as nursing home administrators having experience as a registered nurse (RN). Licensure and certification requirements vary by position, state, and employer. Licensure and certification are usually available in specific areas of healthcare management, such as long-term care, office management, or health information management.

In general, medical and health services managers work to help their facility provide quality and efficient care, but specific job duties vary by position. Depending on the position, these managers could be required to manage budgets, oversee staff, ensure compliance of their organization with current regulations, and set goals for improvement.

Become a Top Executive

Top executives also include an array of specific job titles, including executive director, president, chief financial officers (CFOs), general and operations managers, and chief executive officers (CEOs). Similar to medical and health services managers, these executives typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree, but advanced degrees may be preferred. Extensive work experience is usually required, and most top executives move up into their position from lower-level management positions. Licenses or certifications for these professionals are dependent on the area in which they work.

Top executives focus on the big picture for organizations and help set goals and develop strategies for reaching these goals. They may also have more authority to make big decisions for the organization, such as negotiating contracts or cutting costs in some way. These professionals help hire other managers and supervise the financial activities of the organization.

Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Those who are interested in helping teach other healthcare professionals may become postsecondary teachers in the healthcare field. Most colleges and universities require their teachers to hold a doctoral degree, but some institutions may only require a master's degree. Professionals typically need to hold a degree in the area that they teach and may need to have at least some work experience in their given field. If their field of expertise commonly requires a specific license or certification, postsecondary teachers may be required to hold it.

Postsecondary teachers usually teach a few different courses in their specific field. They have the freedom to create their own course materials and assignments that aim to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to work in the field. These educators also need to stay updated with changes or progress made in their field and could have research responsibilities at their institution.

Healthcare Management Professional Organizations

Those working or planning to work in healthcare management should consider joining a professional organization to connect with other professionals in the field. These groups also provide a variety of resources that help students advance their skills and knowledge of the field. In the case of healthcare management, there are some general organizations available, as well as more specific organizations in focused areas of healthcare management. For example, students could consider joining groups such as:

  • The American College of Healthcare Executives- The ACHE offers membership and different chapters of the organization. The group looks to support healthcare executives by preparing them for board certification in healthcare management and offering various resources, including career information, events, and professional development series.
  • The Healthcare Financial Management Association- The HFMA is a more focused group for healthcare managers involved in the finances of their organization. This group also offers membership and chapters, as well as industry initiatives, events, certifications, and resources for organizational learning.

How Much Does a Doctorate in Healthcare Management Cost?

The cost of earning a doctoral degree in healthcare management is dependent on a wide range of factors, including the tuition of a program and living expenses. Tuition rates vary greatly between different schools and sometimes between student types, such as a resident vs. a non-resident or full-time vs. part-time. Although these rates differ greatly, some doctoral programs in healthcare management have a tuition rate per credit hour that ranges between about $500 and over $1,200. Students also need to consider the cost of fees, textbooks, and other materials, as well as living expenses, like housing and food.

Scholarships & Funding Opportunities for a Healthcare Management Doctorate

Many schools offer various ways for students to cut the cost of earning their doctoral degree in healthcare management. For example, there are several different discounts or ways to save money on tuition. Several programs provide discounts for military service members and other programs may also accept transfer credit to cut down on cost and/or offer tuition reimbursement programs for employers assisting their employees in earning their degree.

Students can also pursue different forms of financial aid. Students should begin the financial aid process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if there are federal loans or grants that they qualify for. Students can then begin exploring financial aid options through their school of interest and/or outside sources. Some doctoral programs in healthcare management will offer tuition support and stipends for all of their students in exchange for research assistance. There are also various outside organizations that can sometimes assist with funding. For instance, the National Research Service Training Award (NRSA) is a fellowship program that provides tuition assistance and a stipend for physicians and doctoral students interested in health services research.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Additional Doctorate Degrees Programs

View More

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?