As the Baby Boomer generation ages and the pandemic continues, the healthcare industry is seeing an increase in demand for medical personnel with advanced knowledge and expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations are projected to grow by 15% between 2019 and 2029, creating 2.4 million new jobs. This surge in demand means there is a growing need for healthcare administrators to help clinics, hospitals, and healthcare organizations run smoothly and efficiently. For those who can’t take time off from their current job, an online doctorate degree in healthcare administration may be the perfect solution. With an online program, you can gain the knowledge and skills you need to advance in your career without putting your job on hold.
Holding a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration can provide a solid foundation for entry-level positions in the field, but to stand out in the competitive job market and advance to leadership roles, a graduate degree and relevant experience can be crucial. A Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) degree, for instance, is considered a terminal degree in the field, and it can give you the competitive edge you need to secure high-level positions in healthcare corporations, non-profit organizations, or government agencies. Additionally, a DHA degree program can help you develop the skills necessary to be a healthcare leader and innovator in the industry, such as strategic thinking, financial management, and data analytics.
This article will give you a comprehensive overview of the best online doctorate degree in healthcare administration, including the academic and professional requirements, the cost of online degree programs, and the types of courses that are typically offered. We will also provide guidance on the key factors to consider when choosing an online doctoral degree program to help you make informed decisions as you advance both academically and professionally.
The pandemic has forced academic institutions to adopt online classes. Regarding college degrees, students still have the option to go for a completely online or a hybrid program. The options, however, are not applicable to all degree programs.
A doctoral degree in healthcare administration or D.H.A. can be completed online 100% depending on the university. To verify this information, you may have to check on the official website of the college or university you plan to enroll in if their online D.H.A. program is purely online, hybrid, or requires on-campus residency. For example, Franklin University’s D.H.A. program is delivered through a 100% online format. On the other hand, Central Michigan University-Mount Pleasant has a combination of online classes and in-person seminars (Healthcare Administration Degree Programs, 2020).
The quality of online college education has significantly improved over the last 10 years with the introduction of new technology. As the delivery of online college programs become more sophisticated, the confidence of employers in hiring graduates who completed their degrees online continues to grow as well. Thus, it is imperative that employers now take your online degrees seriously.
The credibility of an online program and the academic institution’s reputation, however, are factors that affect an employer’s decision in hiring online degree graduates (Northcentral University, 2021).
Online degrees are gaining recognition in different countries across the world. The levels of recognition and acceptance of online degrees, however, vary by country. Different countries have different regulations when it comes to online degrees, which include different admission and coursework requirements. The best way to know if your online degree is recognized in a specific country is to learn more about the country’s online education directives. In case the country where you plan to study online programs is not an English-speaking region and has few reliable English resources, you can seek guidance from institutions that help students conduct international research, such as Ohio State University’s state authorization team ([email protected], 2019).
Some countries, however, do not offer distance learning (D.E.). A study by Fidalgo, et al., published in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education titled “Students’ perceptions on distance education” states that some countries “that do not offer DE find it difficult to navigate through the steps that are needed to provide such courses and programs. Investigating learners’ perceptions, attitudes and willingness to try DE can provide guidance and recommendations for IHEs that are considering expanding use of DE formats.”
Source: "Students’ Perceptions on Distance Education: A Multinational Study" by Fidalgo, et al.
A doctorate degree in healthcare administration is the highest academic degree that can be awarded in this field of study. This degree is ideal for professionals who already have experience working in the healthcare system as it gives them an edge to qualify for leadership positions in an organization whether corporate, public, academic, and more. With a doctorate degree, healthcare administration professionals will gain more advanced knowledge and training in management, education, and clinical areas of healthcare.
The overall cost of an online degree is generally cheaper compared to a traditional degree. While the cost of tuition varies significantly depending on the type of academic institution and location of the student, online degrees exclude other factors, such as transportation costs. By taking an online degree, students will also not be charged with other fees, including campus residency, use of campus facilities, and others. There, however, are other charges exclusive to online degrees, such as the technology used by the college or university for online class delivery.
One of the ways to determine if an online degree is as good as a traditional degree is to determine how employers and recruitment professionals view them. Looking back to more than a decade ago, 83% of employers already viewed online degrees are as credible as the ones earned traditionally (Zupek, 2010). However, according to employers, recruiting professionals, and academic experts, there are three vital criteria that make online degrees valuable.
The first criterion is the academic institution must be regionally accredited. Accreditation serves as the validation that a college or university meets the high standards for providing quality education to students. Next, the college or university offering online programs must have a traditional campus. This criterion is anchored on the belief that institutions with brick-and-mortar colleges or universities offer the same quality of education for both online and on-campus degrees. Lastly, the college or university must have an overall good reputation.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
The cost of an online doctoral degree in healthcare administration, or doctorate degrees in general, varies across universities. Typically, public institutions offer the cheapest online PhD programs, with an average annual tuition of $12,171, including other fees. As for private colleges and universities, for-profit institutions cost slightly higher than public universities with an average of $14,208 in annual fees. On the other hand, private nonprofit institutions can cost students $27,776 a year (N.C.E.S., n.d.).
A career in healthcare administration is promising. The growing demand for medical professionals also means a demand for healthcare leaders. While a master’s degree can help you climb up the leadership ladder, having a doctorate degree in online healthcare administration can further increase your chances to secure executive positions, which offer an average pay of $77,000 to $125,000 annually.
With only 19% of Americans claiming that they are very satisfied with the quality of healthcare in the United States, this advanced degree can make you more qualified to contribute to the strategic planning and reshaping of an organization, community, or even a country’s healthcare system.
Just like other online degrees, an online degree in healthcare administration has general and specific prerequisites for admission. Below are some of the requirements you may have to prepare if you plan to apply for an online D.H.A. program. Please, however, keep in mind that some of the requirements vary depending on the institution. The details below will serve as your healthcare administration degree guide.
Students enrolling in online degrees must have the appropriate technologies to help them attend the online classes, discussions, and other related activities. If you are one of them, you must have a good-performing laptop or desktop computer with specs that can support the applications and software that may be required by your university or program. Aside from computers, students also use mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones in online classes. Having a good pair of headphones is also a must. A high-speed Internet connection is definitely necessary for a better and smoother online class experience.
Online D.H.A. courses may vary depending on the institution. Below are some of the core online degree courses in healthcare administration you may expect when taking up the program.
This course tackles the role of organizational leadership in social health. Among the topics studied in this course is how the science of epidemiology can be used as a basis to make strategic decisions that can improve healthcare at the administrative, community, and global level.
In this course, students will delve into the subject of policy-making, such as how to create and amend policies in the corporate, state, or federal setting. By taking this course, students will learn how existing policies affect both healthcare providers and patients, as well as healthcare organizations.
Leadership positions in the administrative side of healthcare require advanced knowledge in financial management and efficient utilization of resources. In this course, students will examine different aspects of sustaining effective and accessible healthcare services.
The decision to apply to an online doctorate degree in healthcare administration has a number of important considerations. One of the main things to consider is the accreditation of a college or university. Keep in mind that not all academic institutions are officially recognized to offer quality online D.H.A. programs, so it is best to choose a college or a university that is not only accredited but also reputable in terms of providing students with a high standard of online education.
Another factor to consider is if the program is offered 100% online or in a hybrid format. If it is the latter, you may also have to check the campus location to determine whether the travel time and distance are reasonable. Checking the schedule is also a must, especially if you are working. Typically, online classes have flexible schedules to accommodate working professionals.
It is also important to verify the cost of the online program and if there are other charges you may have to cover in the long run. Some academic institutions do not disclose the entire fees upon enrollment, especially those that you have to pay later on as you take your online degree. Financial aids are also available for students who may have to postpone their day jobs to concentrate on completing their online doctorate degree.
Source: College Board
The plan to advance your career to higher leadership positions requires both academic and professional qualifications. While a doctorate degree can definitely lend more credibility to a job candidate’s academic skills, the administrative experience as a healthcare professional bears as much, if not more, weight. Your passion to contribute to the establishment of a better healthcare system also plays a vital role in shaping you to become a good leader in this field.
Many different types of doctors will need to partner with the best healthcare administrators to run their clinics and hospitals efficiently. Through the information provided in this article, we hope that you have gained a broader understanding of how the best online doctoral degree in healthcare administration works, its perks, and the things you can expect to learn and encounter when taking this program.