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The current American health care system is gigantic and complex, making high-level expertise in health care administration extremely valuable. Spending on health care in the U.S. comprised 17.6 percent of gross national product in 2007 and is projected to more than double by 2018. From coordinating care to managing finances, providing organizational oversight to making policy decisions, the health care administrator is a central player within the health care industry.

A PhD in Medical & Health with a specialization in Health Care Administration could open a new world of professional options to you--allowing you to join the upper echelon of the health care industry in a variety of areas. Different avenues of education are available, such as campus-based and online PhD programs, that can prepare you for your new career. However, what does it take to reach the educational pinnacle of your field? Hard work and dedication--a PhD in Health Care Administration can take four to six years to complete, so pursuing a doctorate degree is not a decision to be made lightly.

This guide can provide you with direction, answer questions, and get you on the road to success with a PhD or DBA in Health Care Administration.

Researching PhD Programs in Health Care Administration

Applying for a doctorate degree in health care administration is not only a matter of knowing what's out there in terms of education choices, but also what's inside you in terms of life plans.

The only way to strike that proper balance is via thorough research. Through WorldWideLearn.com, you can search for schools categorized by location and level of education.

PhD in Health Care Administration: Specialist vs. Generalist

When researching PhD and DBA programs in health care administration, it's important to realize that effective health care administration is a combination of medicine and business. However, certain career paths are more focused on either medicine or business. Doctorate degree programs in health care administration, then, tend to demand a choice from the student before admission to train as either a specialist or a generalist.

  • Specialist. A specialist, such as a nursing home health care administrator, are trained in specific health care areas, such as nursing home health care administration. They should be highly educated on the medical matters associated with caring for the elderly.
  • Generalist. A generalist, by contrast, may be more business-oriented as opposed to claiming specific knowledge in any particular area of medicine. A generalist health care administrator, for example, may work for a nursing home one year and an athlete rehabilitation center the next.

Choosing between becoming a specialists and generalist can be a good way to get a big picture view of your options for campus-based and online PhD and DBA programs in health care administration.

PhD Programs in Health Care Administration

Anyone who's ever looked at a stack of medical papers and thought "you'd need a PhD to figure this stuff out" wasn't far from the truth. Health care administration is a tremendously challenging field and an on-campus or online PhD program in Health Care Administration can help you navigate it.

There are a variety of PhD degrees in health care administration available, including:

  • PhD in Health Sciences
  • PhD in Health Administration
  • PhD in Human Services

Within your chosen PhD program, you can choose from a variety of specializations. For example, in a PhD in Health Sciences program, you may specialize in areas such as interdisciplinary studies, clinical laboratory studies, nutrition, physical therapy, cardiopulmonary sciences, and more.

A doctorate degree program in health care administration can prepare you to:

  • Review, synthesize, and critique health science literature
  • Plan original research
  • Gain leadership skills that translate into clinical, academic, and research settings
  • Gain a better understanding of cultural and ethical issues within the health care industry
  • Apply research to treatment services, health care education, diagnostic services, and more

Depending on your career goals, deciding on where to focus your educational efforts (i.e., health sciences versus human services) can be a good first step to narrowing down potential PhD programs in health care administration.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Health Care Administration

A PhD is not the only degree that can prepare you for the rigors of managing a health-related division of a company or even a health-related company as a whole. A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is another doctorate degree that can prepare you for high-level health care administration positions.

A DBA in Health Care Administration aims to prepare students for the business side of the health care industry. Currently, insurance companies are a major potential employer of DBA in Health Care Administration degree holders. In comparison to a PhD in Health Care Administration, the DBA in Health Care Administration is more focused on the business side of things, with typical coursework including:

  • Risk analysis
  • Strategic planning
  • Organizational management
  • Health care law
  • Quality improvement
  • Budget control
  • Human resources

PhD and DBA doctorate degrees alike seek to provide students with the ability to oversee the operations of a health care facility from top to bottom. The balance between the medicine and business aspects of health care administration varies from program to program and school to school.

You can use WorldWideLearn.com to investigate various doctorate degree programs and get more information about options in both PhD and DBA programs in Health Care Administration.

Online or Campus-Based PhD Program in Health Care Administration

Though health care is a very a hands-on profession, doctoral degree programs in health care administration are still widely available through many online colleges. Some online degree programs in health care administration include a hands-on element such as a sponsored internship or a regular meeting with faculty and peers. Individuals pursuing PhD and DBA degrees in health care administration are often already working in the field, satisfying the hands-on side of the health care equation.

How to Choose a Doctorate Degree Program in Health Care Administration

No matter what your eventual career goals or whether you choose an on campus or online doctorate degree program in health care administration, you can use universal criteria to narrow down your search for the right PhD or DBA degree program in health care administration.


Attending an accredited school is an absolute must for pursuing a doctorate degree in health care administration. Hospitals and other medical employers are not prepared to accept degrees from un-accredited institutions. In fact, doing so may be viewed as an invitation to litigation.

What organization accredits your doctorate degree in health care administration, however, is a less clear-cut matter, and may depend on the demands of your current or future employer. Health care industry organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) provide accreditation, as do more general quality assurance accreditation bodies such as the North Central Association (NCA).

In order to guarantee maximum career flexibility, thoroughly investigate the accreditation requirements not only of your current or future employer, but your desired profession as a whole. Give yourself freedom by attending a widely accredited school.

WorldWideLearn.com provides information about accreditation, as well as information about how accreditation can impact your ability to get financial aid.

Quality of Faculty

The quality of the professors when choosing a PhD or DBA degree program in health care administration is also a fundamental consideration.

The interwoven nature of medicine and business in the field of health care administration is such that instructors who have real world experience in both medicine and business are often the best teachers. Because you will be pursuing that dual mastery yourself, you may want to seek out faculty members that have demonstrated a track record of achievement in both areas.

To inquire about the faculty of a particular educational institution, contact schools directly.

Program History and Performance

When evaluating program history, it is best to go beyond the standard questions about longevity to figure out if a PhD or DBA degree program in health care management is relevant to today's health care industry.

More importantly, is a doctoral degree program in health care management that you're considering ready for the future? What measures are they taking to be relevant to today and ready for tomorrow?

Program history and performance questions to ask include:

  • How long has this school been around?
  • What is the graduation rate for the doctorate degree program(s)?
  • Is it possible to point out a few notable successes that graduated from this school?
  • Do health care companies regularly hire graduates of this program?
  • Why, specifically, is this program better than any other competing option?

This is a massive decision for you to undertake and you deserve answers to even your more difficult questions. Competent enrollment advisors should be happy to oblige.


Especially if you are planning to pursue a PhD in health care administration with a strong focus on specialization in one area of the health care industry, it is necessary to discover what educational, experiential, and testing requirements must be met for admission.

Many doctoral degree programs in health care administration require with a bachelor's degree in a medical or business major. Some programs may require up to ten years of real world medical experience before admitting students to doctorate degree programs in health care administration.

However, do not assume that you won't be welcome at a doctoral degree program in health care administration just because you were a history major in college. Some doctorate degree programs in health care administration actively recruit students who do not have medical education backgrounds.

Exam Requirements

Most universities require that you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before matriculating to a doctoral degree program in health care administration. WorldWideLearn.com offers some helpful tips for acing any test.

Peer Pressure and Doctorate Degrees in Health Care Administration

Achieving admission to top doctoral degree programs in health care administration can be tough due to keen competition. Health administration executive jobs often boast high pay and full benefits, so it's not surprising that many people covet advanced health administration education.

The smarts of your peers in a doctorate degree program in health administration can also work in your favor, creating an environment of striving and accomplishment. Competition may be daunting at admissions time, but peer excellence is a good thing overall.

Especially from an employer's point of view, it's always nice to have gone to college with people smarter than you (or at least in the general vicinity of that distinction).

Additional Research for Doctoral Degrees in Health Care Administration

WorldWideLearn.com offers a database of schools of on campus and online doctoral degree programs in health care administration. Visit the Education Resources section of WorldWideLearn.com to gather sources for credible, compelling research on distance learning opportunities in health care.

Consulting good sources is by far the best way to make a good decision of what PhD or DBA in health care administration to pursue, and at what educational institution.



  • Association of University Programs in Health Administration
  • American College of Health Care Executives, Careers in Health Care Management
  • American Health Information Management Association
  • Capella University, Health Care Administration Doctorate
  • Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
  • National Coalition on Health Care, Facts About Health Care
  • The New York Times, Why Does U.S. Health Care Cost So Much?, by Uwe Reinhardt
  • Professional Association of Health Care Office Management

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