Health care administration is a very popular academic field, opening the opportunity for a number of careers in teaching and advanced research. PhD programs in health care administration prepare graduates with the advanced research skills and field expertise they need to fill these types of positions. At this level, it is common for the curriculum to be tailored to suit each student’s specific interests. These may include specializations in areas such as health policy, social and community services, or health economics, to name a few. Programs usually include a range of advanced seminars and research courses.

Why a Ph.D.?

If your goal is to teach at the college level or pursue advanced leadership and research opportunities, an advanced degree will be required. While some community colleges may allow instructors with only a master’s degree, a Ph.D. is usually required. This is a research intensive curriculum that may cover topics in health technology and innovation, health policy, community and social services, and health care economics, to name a few options. Jobs for Ph.D. graduates can include positions with colleges and universities, government agencies, and private health systems, among others.

Getting Into a Ph.D. Program

Given the demanding curriculum for Ph.D. programs, schools will typically be more selective when it comes to the admissions process. Here are a few common eligibility requirements to consider:

  • A master’s degree from an accredited university
  • Official transcripts from all colleges you have attended
  • Minimum GPA (as outlined by the school)
  • GRE or GMAT test scores (if required)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Minimum number of years of professional experience (if required)
  • Application form and fee
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation (if required)

Inside a Healthcare Administration Ph.D. Program

If you are interested in earning your PhD in health care administration online, you can typically complete the program in four to six years. This will vary, though, based on the number of courses taken each term, breaks from the program, and how long your spend working on your dissertation. Advanced course work in public policy, health care economics, social and community services, health delivery systems, and information systems, are commonly covered. The flexibility of an online curriculum also provides students the option to continue working while earning their degree.

Typically, online courses operate on an asynchronous schedule. This means students are not required to log in at specified times. Rather, they can turn in assignments, review materials, participate in discussion boards, and communicate with their professors at whatever times work with their personal and professional schedules. Streaming video, chat, and web conferencing technology will help students interact with their peers and faculty advisors throughout the program.

What’s Next for Healthcare Administration Ph.D. Degree Holders?

Ph.D. graduates commonly pursue careers in academia or advanced leadership and research. These positions may be with colleges, private health systems, or government agencies. It’s also possible they will find jobs working in health policy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a strong job outlook for medical and health service managers with 22% growth expected from 2010 to 2020. Estimated growth in the demand for postsecondary teachers is 17%

In 2011, the reported mean annual wage for medical and health services managers was $96,030. For postsecondary teachers in health specialties, this was $99,210. Please note, these are only estimates and may not reflect actual openings or starting pay. This can all be influenced by your level of experience, education, location, and the specific position or employer.