Earning a Ph.D. in Healthcare Management Online

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Become Team
September 22, 2021

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the medical and healthcare service management field will grow at a rate much higher than average over the coming years, with a 20% projected increase by 2026. With many advanced positions in healthcare management already requiring a master’s degree, many professionals in this field opt to earn their online Ph.D. in healthcare management in order to obtain higher positions and salaries. Graduates of these programs go on to work in a variety of healthcare and community service industries and work environments, including hospitals, insurance companies, and nonprofits.

Earning an accredited online Ph.D. in healthcare management provides a flexible way for working professionals to pursue further education and advance their careers without having to go to campus. This guide provides information on earning this degree, and what types of careers graduates may qualify for in healthcare management.

What Can You Do With an Online Ph.D. in Healthcare Management?

Online Ph.D. in healthcare management programs equip students with a variety of marketable and versatile skills that will serve them all kinds of work settings and industries. Many of these professionals have a strong interest in working with people and providing quality service and care to clients and patients, and sometimes take up roles working directly with the public in management roles in hospitals, healthcare organizations, and social service programs. The jobs below serve as just a few examples of careers pursued by graduates of online Ph.D. in healthcare management programs.

Medical or Health Services Manager

Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Expected Growth Rate (2016-26): 20%

Medical health services managers aim to improve the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of an organization’s healthcare services. They monitor financials such as patient billing and fees, and ensure the organization meets and complies with all standards, laws, and regulations. These managers work alongside medical professionals like doctors and nurses, and sometimes work directly with patients.

Top Executives

Median Annual Salary: $104,980
Expected Growth Rate (2016-26): 8%

Healthcare management professionals with doctorates sometimes go on to work as top executives for organizations, serving in roles such as operations managers, chief executive officers, and other high-level administrators. These executives oversee all operations within an organization. In healthcare settings, this might include supervising all aspects of hospital operations, consulting with board members, and creating policies.

Management Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $83,610
Expected Growth Rate (2016-26): 14%

Healthcare management professionals working as management analysts may work on a contract or consult-basis, providing management advice and guidance to organizations. These analysts gather information about the organization and how it operates, and develop solutions to issues in efficiency and effectiveness. They may also evaluate an organization’s financials and determine ways to lower costs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics / PayScale

The Top-Paying Industries for Medical and Health Services Managers

  • Employment: 570

  • Percentage of Industry Employment: 0.20

  • Annual Mean Wage: $221,360

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Traits of a Successful Healthcare Management Graduate

Graduates of online Ph.D. in healthcare management programs often possess skills in a variety of marketable areas, including technology, verbal and written communication, and decision-making. The program prepares students to pursue upper-level careers in healthcare management, working with and supervising groups of staff members in healthcare settings, and overseeing operations of a healthcare or social service organization. They utilize medical software to collect and maintain patient and client records, communicate with insurance companies regarding patient billing and fees, and ensure that the organization adheres to all existing policies and laws. Successful healthcare management graduates often excel in the skills listed below.

Healthcare services managers must have strong speaking skills. These professionals can effectively communicate ideas and information to the staff they supervise as well as patients they interact with.
Those who serve in supervisory and management positions must have critical thinking skills that enable them to make important decisions on a daily basis. The decisions they make and solutions they implement must effectively serve their organization.
Like many professionals in the healthcare industry, active listening serves a vital role in these careers. Healthcare managers must listen to other managers, their healthcare provider staff, and clients or patients they interact with.

Salary by Experience Level

Many professionals working in healthcare management or related fields often choose to pursue doctorates in order to advance their careers and increase their earning potential. Generally, bachelor’s degrees will earn graduates entry-level positions in healthcare management, and more education, including master’s and doctoral degrees, can potentially contribute to higher positions in leadership roles, higher salaries, and the potential for further growth within the field. The table below outlines the average salaries of medical and health services managers, based on their years of experience in the field.

Pay by Experience Level for Medical and Health Services Managers

Source: PayScale

Certifications and Licenses a Ph.D. in Healthcare Management Prepares For

Steps to Earning a Ph.D. in Healthcare Management Online

Researching accredited online Ph.D. in healthcare management programs acts as one of the initial steps in earning your doctorate. As you select the right program for you, you will want to consider a number of important factors, and know what you might expect as you enter a doctoral program in healthcare management. Although each school and program will differ, the steps below represent the common process for earning this degree.

Find the Right Program for You

Choosing the best online Ph.D. in healthcare management program for you involves consideration of a variety of important factors. For starters, look into what amount of the program takes place online; some programs may require minimal amounts of on-campus or in-person coursework, or even proctored exams at a local testing center. Think about the length of each program, and whether you can complete coursework on your own timeline, or if you must follow a specific track.


Applying to an online Ph.D. in healthcare management will require a few more steps than you may remember from applying to undergraduate programs. Typically, applicants must submit a standard application form, as well as a variety of supplemental materials. These might include professional recommendation letters, a detailed resume covering your work experience, and any required standardized test scores, such as the GRE. You should allow yourself at least six to eight weeks prior to the application deadline to compile and submit these materials.

Capstone, Dissertation, or Thesis

In doctoral programs, students typically must complete and submit a formal dissertation in order to graduate. This generally entails a major research project in the student’s area of specialization, and a formal write up that often adds up to a few hundred pages. Alternatively, some programs may offer students the option to pursue capstone seminars, which often involve compiling a portfolio of work, either collaboratively or individually. Typically, students earning master’s degrees complete thesis projects.

Fellowship or Internship

Graduate programs often require or offer opportunities for students to complete fellowships or internships while earning their degree. Fellowships, which generally provide students with grants or other fundings to conduct research, may take place during or following required coursework. Some programs require internships, which might involve direct work experience or supervised practice hours in some fields, either during or immediately following coursework. Requirements for fellowships and internships will vary from school to school.

Curriculum for an Online Ph.D. in Healthcare Management

The sample curriculum below includes courses commonly offered in online Ph.D. in healthcare management programs. Keep in mind, however, that actual course offerings will differ from school to school.

  1. Research Methods: A standard requirement for students in research-based doctorate programs, healthcare management students often take at least one course in research methods. This course may involve multiple courses covering different types of research, including quantitative and qualitative methods. This course may also offer an overview of using library resources for gathering source material.

  2. Leadership in Health Systems: This course maps the history of leadership theory and explores how it applies to taking on leadership roles in healthcare systems. It may cover methods for forging and maintaining effective partnerships, such as those with healthcare staff members or fellow leaders. The course may also address topics in human resources.

  3. Organizational Strategy and Design: This course examines the design and structure of healthcare organizations, and how that structure contributes to an organization’s overall culture and work environment. Students may discuss different types of organizational design and different strategies employed by major institutions. The course may require students to design and validate their own organizational structure.

  4. Issues in Healthcare: This course in issues in healthcare may cover a variety of current and timely topics, including arguments for and against universal healthcare, the ethics and issues with existing insurance programs, and organizational issues concerning healthcare providers. Students discuss these issues and forecast how progress and change will affect the industry.

  5. Culture, Values, and Ethics: This course explores the ways the values of organizations have influenced the formation of codes of conduct and ethics for global demographics. Students may also examine the various ethical implications of working in leadership roles in the healthcare industry, and discussing how personal and organizational ethics influence interactions with healthcare staff and patients.

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