30 Most Affordable PhD in Healthcare Administration 2024

PhD in Healthcare Administration

Key Takeaways:

  • Our #1 ranking school for an affordable PhD in Healthcare Administration is Trident University International, followed by Texas Woman’s University.
  • PhD programs in healthcare administration offer flexible, affordable options for working professionals seeking leadership roles in healthcare.
  • Graduates often pursue academic, government, or private sector roles, benefiting from interdisciplinary studies and research opportunities.

In this article, we profile the 30 most affordable PhD in healthcare administration programs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports a favorable job outlook and employment growth of 18 percent for medical and health services managers and administrators. As the large baby-boom population ages, an increase in demand for healthcare managers is expected. Top leadership roles in the field require significant education. This means that those with a PhD in healthcare administration should have the best prospects for jobs.

Featured Programs

30 Affordable PhD in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs Methodology

We reviewed over 105 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources that offered PhD in health administration degree programs. These are programs offered both online and on-campus. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation (regional and/or national), institution and/or program rankings with at least one major publication like U.S. News and World Report, and affordability (graduate tuition/fees less than $25,000 per year). We then ranked the programs according to raw affordability. I think with all these great, affordable programs, you’ll find a healthcare administration degree is definitely worth it.

Below is our list of top 30 most affordable PhD in healthcare administration programs.

#30 – Seton Hall University

PhD in Health Sciences

South Orange, New Jersey


Seton Hall University - logo

The School of Health and Medical Sciences at the private college Seton Hall offers a PhD in healthcare administration for seasoned professionals seeking advanced skills and training. The program includes three specialization tracks:

  • Health Professions Leadership
  • Movement Science
  • Speech-Language Pathology

Admission to these healthcare administration doctoral programs is competitive. Students should have at least a master’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA for all graduate coursework. Additionally, students are required to submit two letters of recommendation. Other admission requirements include a goal statement and resume/CV. While GRE scores are not required, students who have taken the exam should submit scores as part of their application. Seton Hall boasts a national ranking of #139 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for financial aid.

Graduate Tuition: $25,218

#29 – University of Michigan

PhD in Health Services Organization and Policy

Ann Arbor, Michigan


University of Michigan -logo

The University of Michigan’s School of Public Health’s doctorate in healthcare administration’s curriculum intersects individual health and healthcare public policy. The program has an applied research orientation buttressed by scientific inquiry within a rigorous framework. The interdisciplinary nature of the program means students are able to take courses from several of Michigan’s top schools and departments. This includes the Ross Business School and College of Literature, Science, and Arts. Approximately two-thirds of graduates are granted academic appointments as researchers or faculty members. The remaining one-third move into government or the private sector to work in a healthcare organization. Alumni have been placed at several prestigious institutions. Examples include Duke University, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins University. Michigan is consistently ranked among the top public schools and currently ranks #3 by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $24,902

#28 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Doctorate in Health Science

Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Nova Southeastern University -logo

A private university, Nova Southeastern University offers one of the nation’s best online healthcare administration doctoral programs. The program focuses on teaching experienced healthcare practitioners to conduct advanced research within the context of healthcare policy. This includes both qualitative and quantitative research. All applicants must have a master’s or professional degree from a regionally accredited institution as well as a 3.0 GPA. Plus, applicants are recommended to have GRE test scores of at least 150 verbal, 149 quantitative, and 4.0 writing. Professional experience in healthcare is also part of the admission requirements. In fact, it is a major admissions metric used when considering applicants for the healthcare management program. Students explore:

  • Community Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Conflict Resolution in Healthcare
  • Leadership in Healthcare

Nova ranks #246 in national universities by U.S. News. Financial aid is available to qualified applicants.

Graduate Tuition: $21,153

#27 – University of Minnesota

PhD in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration

Minneapolis, Minnesota


University of Minnesota - logo

The University of Minnesota’s PhD in healthcare administration focuses on research, policy and administration. The multidisciplinary degree lets students explore the American healthcare system through the social, political, and economic lenses that impact the delivery of healthcare. The program offers six distinct areas of emphasis . Joint degrees are also available and include JD/PhD and MD/PhD. The admission process is holistic. It uses data points such as GRE scores and GPA. Other considerations include the applicant’s statement of purpose, background and experience, letters of recommendation, and much more. The average admitted student has a 3.43 GPA with a 321 combined (quantitative/verbal) GRE score. Minnesota is ranked #70 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $17,844

#26 – D’Youville College

PhD: Health Administration

Buffalo, New York


D'Youville College - logo

D’Youville College offers one of the leading PhD healthcare administration programs in the country. This program prepares graduates for top leadership roles in health administration. These roles demand deep knowledge of healthcare law, research, strategic planning, policy, finance, and organizational behavior. The program focuses on didactic learning that transfers not only knowledge but actual skills and job functions needed to succeed at the occupation. Admission requirements include possession of a master’s degree with a 3.2 GPA or better. Plus, potential students must submit two letters of reference, resume, and statement of purpose. Ranked #254 in national universities by U.S. News, D’Youville University provides an accredited and respected degree for aspiring healthcare professionals.

Graduate Tuition: $19,170

#25 – Northcentral University

Online PhD Health Care Administration

La Jolla, California


Northcentral University - logo

Northcentral University offers one of the best online doctorate in healthcare administration programs in the United States. This PhD program is an excellent choice for healthcare administrators seeking a PhD while simultaneously working towards their degree. In addition, the program is excellent for those who live in an area that does not offer this particular degree. The 60-credit, 20-course degree can be finished in 45 months. This is provided students follow the preferred schedule established by the Dean for the program. And with weekly start times, no synchronous lectures, and no group assignments, the program is truly flexible for the working professional. Graduates exit the online healthcare administration program fully capable and prepared to lead complex health organizations through challenging issues. Interested students are encouraged to apply for financial aid.

Graduate Tuition: $16,881

#24 – Temple University

PhD Health Policy and Health Services Research

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Temple University -logo

Like PhD in healthcare administration programs, Temple University’s doctoral program in health policy and research prepares students for academic appointments in healthcare research and teaching. Alternatively, graduates may become high-ranking healthcare policymakers that shape the future of healthcare law, policy, and service through strategic planning. Students work closely with faculty to conduct research and explore issues. Together, they tackle the most salient issues in the healthcare system such as health disparities, health care costs, and policy initiatives that improve health. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline. Almost all admitted students have master’s degrees in healthcare (or related programs) and significant work experience. Temple ranks #104 in U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $17,378

#23 – Medical University of South Carolina

Online PhD Health Administration

Charleston, South Carolina


Medical University of South Carolina - logo

Medical University of South Carolina offers one of the leading PhD in healthcare administration programs online. The program is comprised of a mixture of online courses and one long weekend spent on campus each semester. This hybrid delivery makes it possible for working healthcare professionals to balance their careers and schooling. Meanwhile, they still get face-to-face interaction with faculty, staff, and fellow students. The average cohort size is 23 students with a median time to graduate of just 2.9 years. This makes it one of the most efficient programs of its kind in the country. The program offers two tracks – health administrator or health professional. The institution is ranked #58 in best medical schools research and #88 in best medical schools primary care by U.S. News. Financial aid may be available, and distance learners may access student services.

Graduate Tuition: $16,333

#22 – Central Michigan University

Online Doctorate Health Administration

Mount Pleasant, Michigan


Central Michigan University -logo

Central Michigan University’s online PhD healthcare administration program is designed for current professionals. The core focus of the curriculum is to empower graduates to conduct research and become effective healthcare leaders across a wide spectrum of sub-fields and health-related careers. The program is divided into 15 distance delivery (online) courses. There are also six in-person seminars and a final essay-based examination and doctoral dissertation. Applicants must hold a master’s degree in a related discipline to apply. They must also have at least three years of professional experience with the job title of mid- to senior-level healthcare manager. Ranking #240 in national universities by U.S. News, Central Michigan University holds a solid reputation in both healthcare and higher education spaces.

Graduate Tuition: $17,150

#21 – Regent University

Online PhD in Healthcare Leadership

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Regent University - logo

Regent University offers one of the most innovative PhD in healthcare administration programs online. The program requires only two four–day required residencies. This includes one at the onset of the program covering orientation and one at the end where students complete comprehensive exams and dissertations. The healthcare program is grounded in academic theory and common best occupational practices from a Christian perspective. Sample core courses include:

  • Health Self Leading and Professionalism
  • Health Care Team Leadership and Engagement
  • Healthcare Theory and Practice

Students also have the opportunity to learn qualitative research and quantitative research methods and publish academic papers in leading healthcare leadership journals. Regent University ranks #281 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $15,590

#20 – University of Illinois

PhD Health Policy and Administration

Chicago, Illinois


University of Illinois - logo

The School of Public Health at The University of Illinois Chicago offers a PhD healthcare administration program on campus. This program is designed to prepare students for the rigors and challenges of medical research methods within the context of the systems involved. Examples include health policy, organizational leadership, strategic planning, data analysis, finance, and hospital systems. Applicants will need to submit a personal statement for admission. Other factors and requirements include resume/CV, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Additionally, GRE scores are required. Yet, there is an exception for applicants with a doctoral degree and for fully licensed physicians. Once admitted, students can choose between two concentrations: health services and outcomes and health economics. Featured core classes include:

  • Biostatistics I & II
  • Introduction to Epidemiology
  • Frameworks for Researchers

UIC is currently ranked #132 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,927

#19 – Franklin University

Online PhD in Healthcare Administration

Columbus, Ohio


Franklin University - logo

Franklin University offers one of the top online PhD healthcare administration programs. This program is designed for individuals seeking healthcare leadership positions within a variety of contexts and industries. Examples include health science, education, government, private industry, and non-profit. The courses are 100% online, and the program can be completed in just three years. Admission requires students to have 30 credits of graduate-level healthcare coursework. Other factors include a regionally accredited master’s degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Admission decisions for doctoral students are done on a holistic level. That is, they take into account the applicant’s professional experience, personal characteristics, academic ability, and references. Students without a master’s degree and 3.0 GPA are required to submit GRE scores.

Graduate Tuition: $16,080

#18 – George Mason University

PhD in Healthcare Services Research

Fairfax, Virginia


George Mason University - logo

Like a PhD in healthcare administration, George Mason University’s doctoral program in health service research prepares graduates to be leaders in health research across a variety of industries and careers. The program also offers two distinct specializations in:

  • Knowledge, Discovery and Health Informatics
  • Health Systems and Policy

Applicants must have a regionally accredited master’s degree to be admitted. Once enrolled, they have nine years to complete their doctoral degrees. Additionally, students must progress toward the degree and achieve degree candidacy within six years. Core classes include:

  • Advanced Statistics for Healthcare Administrators
  • Health Policy Development and Analysis
  • Philosophy of Science and Research Methods

Respected among its peers, George Mason ranks #153 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $13,119

#17 – Virginia Commonwealth University

PhD Health Services Organization and Research

Richmond, Virginia


Virginia Commonwealth University -logo

Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Health Professions offers a PhD healthcare administration with a focus on health research skills for medical and health services managers. Potential doctoral students should have a graduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other requirements include 50th percentile GRE scores in the verbal and quantitative sections. The doctoral program courses are divided into four areas including:

  • Foundations of Health Services and Research
  • Health Services Organization Theory
  • Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Electives

Virginia Commonwealth is a respected institution among its peers. It ranks in several U.S. News categories. These include #162 in national universities, #125 best value schools, and #77 in most innovative schools.

Graduate Tuition: $15,319

#16 – Colorado Technical University

Online Doctorate in Healthcare Management and Leadership

Colorado Springs, Colorado


Colorado Technical University - logo

Colorado Technical University offers a PhD in healthcare administration online. This program is designed for busy working professionals seeking advanced career opportunities. The program provides doctoral students with high levels of both financial and academic support. This includes both scholarships and financial aid. In addition, students receive guidance on their dissertation development and proposal from the onset of the program. This alleviates much of the consternation and worry surrounding the PhD process and capstone project. The program is known for its flexibility, both with online classes and in scheduling the residency component. Students explore concepts and courses such as:

  • Application of Action Research
  • Organization Innovation and Scenario Thinking
  • Principles of Research Methods and Design
  • Strategic Thinking and Organizational Alignment

Students interested in the program should consider federal financial aid.

Graduate Tuition: $12,581

#15 – University of California- Berkeley

PhD: Health Policy

Berkeley, California


University of California -Berkeley- logo

Like a PhD in healthcare administration, The University of California at Berkeley offers a PhD in health policy for medical and health services managers. The program explores the financial management and organization of healthcare systems and policies that drive healthcare. Additionally, students take an interdisciplinary look at the political, socioeconomic, and behavioral determinants that drive health outcomes from a global perspective. Students can select one of three specialties based on their interests and career path:

  • Health Economics
  • Organizations and Management
  • Population Health Sciences

Graduates are well prepared for academic positions in the healthcare field. They also go on to hold positions in government and research organizations as well as hospitals and residential care facilities. The program is very competitive with the average GPA for admitted applicants being 3.62 (undergraduate) and 3.86 (graduate). Moreover, average GRE test scores are in the 82nd percentile in verbal and 88th percentile in quantitative. UC Berkeley ranks #22 in national universities by U.S. News. Federal financial aid may be available to qualified students.

Graduate Tuition: $14,226

#14 – University of South Carolina

PhD Health Services Policy and Management

Columbia, South Carolina


University of South Carolina -logo

The University of South Carolina offers a robust doctorate in healthcare administration. This program prepares its graduates for academic appointments at the university level or to conduct health services research in various contexts. Examples include federal government organizations and private institutions. The program is flexible in that it is designed around the interests of the doctoral students and their professional experience and academic background. The 61-credit program does emphasize research methods, statistics, resource management, and theoretical foundations of health policy. The degree culminates in a dissertation based on original research. The University of South Carolina ranks #104 in national universities by U.S. News. It is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer these health administration programs.

Graduate Tuition: $12,688

#13 – University of Louisville

PhD Health Management and Policy

Louisville, Kentucky


University of Louisville - logo

The Health Management and Systems Sciences Department at Louisville University offers a PhD in healthcare administration. This program focuses on skills needed in health management and policy within the healthcare system. It is designed to prepare doctoral students for academic positions teaching and conducting research, as well as research positions in federal government agencies, private business, and non-profits. Individuals who have completed a master’s degree in a health related major are welcome to apply. Applicants with this previous education must submit documentation such as a resume/CV, transcripts, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation to admissions committees. The University of Louisville is ranked #192 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $12,370

#12 – Arizona State University

Online PhD in Behavioral Health Management

Temple, Arizona


Arizona State University - logo

Arizona State University’s PhD in healthcare administration online is designed for current or future healthcare managers and other healthcare administration professionals. The program helps graduates manage healthcare organizations and departments effectively within the context of a primary care environment. The program requires 84 credits and a 240-hour internship. Enrolled students examine three overarching areas:

  • Integrated Behavioral Health Programs
  • Quality and Performance Measurement
  • Business Entrepreneurship

A master’s degree is not required for admission. Still, applicants with master’s degrees or professional experience in business, health sciences, counseling, health care administration, and social work are encouraged to apply. Arizona State ranks #1 in most innovative university or college by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $11,720

#11 – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Online Doctorate in Health Leadership

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill - logo

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a PhD in healthcare administration online. This program prepares graduates for leadership positions in the healthcare space. The 45-credit program takes just three years to complete and welcomes healthcare workers from a variety of positions and stages in their careers. The hybrid delivery is a mixture of online courses and conveniently scheduled campus visits. This means professionals are able to pursue a PhD from UNC while continuing in their current careers. Application materials include transcripts, GRE scores, and three professional letters of recommendation. UNC is regarded as one of the top learning institutions in the world. It ranks in several U.S. News categories. Examples include #29 in national universities and #5 in top public schools. The school is also institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer these health administration programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,552

#10 – University of Wisconsin

PhD: Health Sciences

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee- logo

The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee offers a PhD healthcare administration program. This program prepares its graduates for academic positions as postsecondary teachers, including faculty and postdoctoral fellowships. Once admitted, students examine an array of health science areas such as:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Kinesiology
  • Physical Therapy

A master’s degree is not required to apply. Students with a bachelor’s degree showing exceptional promise through undergraduate research, stellar recommendations, and GRE scores may be admitted to the program. Applicants must submit a sample of written work and a letter outlining the applicant’s background and area of interest. Three letters of recommendation are also required. U.S. News ranks The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee #293 in national universities.

Graduate Tuition: $10,701

#9 – Grand Canyon University

Online Doctorate Health Care Administration

Phoenix, Arizona


Grand Canyon University - logo

Grand Canyon University is home to one of the best doctoral programs in healthcare administration. This program prepares graduates to be the next generation of top executives, healthcare leaders, and health services managers. The online delivery means working professionals can balance their professional and school-related demands. And for those working in healthcare, the application-based curriculum can be applied to their professional development while they are in school. Program courses for doctoral students may include:

  • Analysis of Existing Research
  • Approach to Research Design and Data Analysis
  • Progressions in Leadership Thought
  • Sustainability in Health Care Organizations

Grand Canyon University ranks in several U.S. News categories. This includes #293 in national universities and #42 in top performers on social mobility. The latter ranking means graduates from the institution see a significant rise in their economic well-being and social standing.

Graduate Tuition: 17,800

#8 – University of South Florida

Online Doctorate in Public Health

Tampa, Florida


University of South Florida - logo

The University of South Florida offers a PhD in healthcare administration online. This program focuses on the development of doctoral students for leadership roles as top executives in practice-based settings. Examples include health departments, non-profits, and international agencies. This is an important distinction for aspiring healthcare administration professionals. Specifically, this program deviates from many others where the focus is on a research-based curriculum preparing individuals for academic research and teaching. Students can choose from concentrations in:

  • Advanced Practice Leadership
  • Clinical Laboratory Science and Practice

Administered through the USF College of Public Health, all courses for these doctoral programs are delivered online. Students will also attend three on-campus institutes that allow for professional networking with peers and mentoring from faculty. USF ranks #104 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

Graduate Tuition: $8,350

#7 – Indiana University

Doctor of Health Policy and Management

Indianapolis, Indiana


Indiana University - logo

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis offers a PhD healthcare administration degree. Graduates of the program will be well positioned to take on roles as advanced researchers at academic institutions. They may also earn high-level leadership roles within research organizations and healthcare organizations. The 90-credit program includes courses and topics such as:

  • Biostatistics
  • Ethics in Public Health
  • Population and Public Health
  • Organizational Leadership

Doctoral students have a total of ten years to complete all coursework and their dissertation. IUPUI ranks in numerous U.S. News categories. These include #228 in national universities, #57 in most innovative, and #109 in top public schools.

Graduate Tuition: $9,228

#6 – University of Central Florida

PhD in Public Affairs Health Services Management and Research

Orlando, Florida


University of Central Florida -logo

The University of Central Florida offers one of the best doctorate in healthcare administration programs. This program brings content together from several disciplines such as criminal justice, health management and informatics, public administration, and social work. The program is housed within the College of Community Innovation and Education. It prepares doctoral students for academic positions engaging in teaching and research roles. Additionally, graduates have also gone on to leadership and research roles for top executives in public, non-profit, and private industries within the healthcare system. The doctoral program welcomes people from varying academic and professional backgrounds. UCF is ranked #166 in national universities, #154 in best value schools, and #16 in most innovative schools by U.S. News. It holds its regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer doctoral programs.

Graduate Tuition: $6,916

#5 – University of Mississippi Medical Center

Doctor of Health Administration

Jackson, Mississippi


University of Mississippi Medical Center - logo

The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers another of the top doctor of healthcare administration programs. This doctoral program is made available through UMMC’s School of Health Related Professions. Applicants must possess a master’s or doctorate degree from a regionally accredited school. Additional requirements include a 3.0 GPA in a health-related field, a master’s or doctorate degree in any field with a 3.0 GPA, and at least five years of management experience. Potential students must also submit GRE scores. Other materials include a current resume or CV and an essay documenting health care experience. The terminal degree program is designed to be completed in just three years.

Graduate Tuition: $8,938

#4 – Liberty University

Online Doctorate in Health Care Management

Lynchburg, Virginia


Liberty University -logo

Liberty University offers a terminal degree: the PhD in healthcare administration online. This is a 60-credit doctoral program that can be completed in just three years time. The 100% online delivery means working professionals can progress towards their degree while keeping up with the demands of their personal lives, such as family and work. The program develops individuals to deal with the challenges of leading the modern healthcare business. It includes coursework and case studies that develop financial management, decision-making, business, and personnel skills, all within the context of the health care industry. The program can best be described as an MBA for health care. Liberty is ranked #293 in national universities by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $7,847

#3 – University of Alabama- Birmingham

Online Doctorate Health Service Administration

Birmingham, Alabama


University of Alabama - Birmingham- logo

The University of Alabama Birmingham offers an online PhD healthcare administration degree. This doctoral program focuses on practice-oriented skill-building and decision-making. It is designed for current health care executives who currently hold, or who are seeking, senior-level management and leadership positions as health services managers or top executives. The program is designed for busy working health care leaders. It can be completed in just three years: two years of coursework, followed by one year of dissertation research and defense. Admission requirements for doctoral students include three recommendations, transcripts, resume, and a short essay. Additionally, applicants must submit an organizational chart showing their position within the institution. GRE scores are not required. UAB ranks #166 in national universities by U.S. News. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited UAB to offer health administration programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,780

#2 – Texas Woman’s University

Online Doctor of Health Studies

Denton, Texas


Texas Woman's University -logo

At Texas Woman’s University, the doctorate in healthcare administration is a research-based terminal degree program. It prepares a graduate for a position as university faculty, postdoctoral fellow, or public health educator. The program is offered through a mix of online and hybrid courses. This format makes it a convenient program for working professionals. Approval for a 100% online delivery method for the program is currently pending. The 96-credit program allows students to transfer up to 39 credits from an approved master’s program. This allows doctoral students to complete the degree even faster and begin working in the health administration field. Texas Woman’s University currently ranks #293 in national universities and #200 in top performers on social mobility by U.S. News.

Graduate Tuition: $5,112

#1 – Trident University International

Online PhD: Health Sciences

Cypress, California


Trident University International - logo

Trident University International offers an online doctorate in healthcare administration, This program requires no on-campus visitations and can be earned 100% online. Unlike most other online and traditional PhD health programs that require on-campus residencies, Trident’s degree is completely online. This is one of the reasons it ranks number one on our list of most affordable PhD in healthcare administration programs. In addition to its affordable tuition, doctoral students save time and money due to having no travel and lodging costs as part of the program. The program’s dynamic and rigorous curriculum prepares graduates for several roles in the healthcare organization. Examples include top executives, consultants, researchers, academics, and more.

Graduate Tuition: $12,244


Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a PhD in healthcare administration?

Obtaining a PhD in healthcare administration provides several career options. These job opportunities exist across many industries and sectors. It’s estimated that only 2% of the population has a PhD of any kind. Thus, the individual that earns this degree is in exclusive company. They have significant career options and leverage, as they possess something that is rare.

PhD in healthcare administration programs typically prepares graduates for two distinct career paths: a career as an academic or a healthcare executive. It is important to know what your career goals are so you can match them to the type of program. Some doctoral programs specialize in career preparation for one path. This is the most common type of program, so it is critical to match the program to your needs.

Some healthcare administration programs prepare graduates for appointments as professors or postdoctoral fellows. These types of programs emphasize knowledge creation and research. Students spend time learning how to engage in healthcare research and completing research projects. This is adequate preparation for a career in academic research and teaching, typically at the university level.

Those interested in healthcare leadership and management positions often select a different kind of program. These degree options focus on core business and leadership functions as they relate to the healthcare industry. Many healthcare courses focus on business functions. Examples include finance, marketing, personnel management, and decision-making. Most often, enrolled students already have management experience and are seeking more in-depth knowledge that a PhD provides.

How long does it take to earn a PhD in healthcare administration?

Earning a PhD in healthcare administration is a lengthy and difficult process. The amount of time it takes to complete a program depends on several factors including the student’s own personal timeline, guidelines established by the program, and delivery method (on-campus versus online).

Generally speaking, on-campus doctoral programs in healthcare administration allow students to attend full- or part-time. A full-time student can finish the entire degree in 3 to 4 years. This projected program length includes all coursework and dissertation development and defense. Part-time students commonly have 7 to 10 years to complete. On-campus programs are more traditional programs. Typically, students attend full-time and are given a stipend and tuition waivers. This allows them to pursue coursework without working.

Online healthcare administration programs are designed with the working professional in mind. As such, these programs offer flexible enrollment and scheduling. Online delivery can look different depending on the program. For example, the program could be offered 100% online with no campus residencies. Alternatively, there are various mixtures of hybrid delivery models ranging from mostly online to partially online. The most common method for online programs is a hybrid mixture. In these types of programs, the majority of coursework is done online. A few short residencies may be mixed in at the beginning and end of the program. Program length for online programs see more variegation. This is because some students are able to attend full-time while others cannot. Online programs range from 3 to 5 years, with a maximum time frame of 7 to 10 years.

What courses will I take while earning a PhD in healthcare administration?

Students take a wide variety of courses within healthcare administration programs. Most program divide their coursework into sub-categories. These may include foundational courses, electives (specialty tracks), and research. Plus, most programs require students to complete research projects and/or pass a qualifying exam after all coursework is completed. This is typically the last step before beginning on the dissertation – the final step before earning the PhD.

Foundational courses are fairly standard. They generally consist of classes covering topics like finance, management, healthcare policy, and economics. These courses prepare graduates for governing and leading healthcare organizations on a day-to-day basis. Courses in public policy, law, economics, and population health provide a systemic look at the societal forces that influence healthcare. They also provide a deeper understanding of challenges and opportunities within the industry.

Research and theory courses play a different role. These classes provide students with the methods and knowledge they need to engage in research-based inquiry as preparation for the dissertation. Students learn qualitative and quantitative methods of research. They also gain theoretical tools used to investigate how healthcare organizations work.

Qualifying exams are the gateway to PhD candidacy. These tests are taken after completion of all coursework. Qualifying exams focus on the subject matter taught during the coursework. A passing score shows the department that the student has mastered the content and is ready to be designated an official PhD candidate. Students who successfully pass qualifying exams further develop their dissertation and may take more courses.

What professional associations may I join while earning a PhD in healthcare administration?

Professional associations provide opportunities for students to stay current in the field. They also help members develop social networks with other students and professionals within the industry. They may also attend conferences, network gatherings, and view career opportunities.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: AAHAM is dedicated to providing resources and advocacy for healthcare administrators regarding the revenue cycle. It serves as a one-stop shop for continuing education and policy changes regarding healthcare reimbursement, data management, medical records, and patient relations. Additionally, the association provides lobbying opportunities and regulatory monitoring. Their mission is to help shape the landscape of the healthcare industry.

American College of Healthcare Executives: ACHE is home to over 48,000 healthcare executives who use the organization for certification and continuing education. The organization is dedicated to advancing research and improving the leadership capacity of its members. This is accomplished through journals, policy updates, conferences, and the like.

Medical Group Management Association: MGMA’s mission is to advance the healthcare industry and associated careers for its members. To accomplish this, the organization provides educational resources, mentoring opportunities, industry specific data and knowledge, and career certifications. The association prides itself in being one of the pre-eminent resources and authorities for executives, healthcare organizations, and job seekers. The organization has active chapters throughout the United States.

What is the job outlook for an individual with a PhD in healthcare administration?

According to the United States Department of Employment’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare administration jobs are expected to experience explosive growth from 2021-2031. With a growth rate of 28%, the industry far outpaces the 5% growth expected for all occupations during the same period.

Demand for these career paths will be driven by multiple factors. Some of these factors include an aging population needing increased medical services, as well as current healthcare administrators, executives, and managers retiring. As medical technology continues to rapidly improve, the need for managers and administrators with expertise and experience in healthcare technology will increase. These professionals will be hired to manage, organize, integrate, and interpret data. Plus, many of the healthcare services traditionally carried out at hospitals will continue to shift to smaller healthcare offices. As such, the need for managers and administrators will grow.

As with most occupations, job prospects will be best in highly populated metropolitan areas. Examples include New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago. These five metro areas rank 1-4 in employment density for healthcare managers. This is according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job seekers, especially with a PhD in healthcare administration and management experience, should find favorable conditions within these and other large metropolitan markets.

CVO Staff


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator

This concludes our list of the 30 most affordable PhD in healthcare administration degree programs.