PhD in Healthcare Administration

Healthcare is arguably one of the most important industries in the world. In the United States, it is also the fastest growing industry as more and more job opportunities open up for doctors, medical researchers, health advocates and health insurance workers. Supplying the economy with a total of 11 million jobs, healthcare is the second largest employer in the country. The variety of jobs in the healthcare field makes it an exciting career choice, and those who work in healthcare can find themselves in a broad range of settings from the hospital to the lab to the doctor’s office.

Career Outlook for Healthcare Administrators

Within this field, healthcare administration is a fast-growing specialty. Whether they’re employed at a large nonprofit like the Red Cross, a public health department, a hospital, research lab or health insurance company, healthcare administrators are always working to ensure that their facility has adequate funding and that the management policies are sound. Healthcare administrators don’t generally focus on one-on-one patient interactions, but rather are responsible for things like budgets, planning strategies, finances, staffing needs, policy planning and the overall business end of a healthcare organization. In order to continue providing high-quality services for patients, healthcare facilities must create efficient and innovative processes for optimal care.

Healthcare administration has a wide array of career opportunities for anyone interested in areas including health policy, the ethics of health, finances, staffing or the politics of healthcare. Healthcare administrators are found in the public and private sectors and are considered either “generalists” who oversee a large organization or “specialists” who focus on a particular department or facility. Those who work in healthcare administration have a variety of educational backgrounds including a Master’s in Health Administration, MBAs with a focus in healthcare, bachelor’s degrees in business and health or public health, and PhDs. Those with advanced degrees will find that there are more opportunities available to them at a higher pay grade.


MPH@Simmons MPH@Simmons, the online Master of Public Health from Simmons College, is designed to give you the real-world skills you need to address health inequity on a local, national, and global level.
MPH@GW An innovative online Master of Public Health program offered by the top-ranked Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
MHA@GW Offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, this online Executive Master of Health Administration program is designed for healthcare professionals who aspire to become leaders in their field.

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Pursuing a PhD in Healthcare Administration

Many PhD programs are research-focused with the intention of developing skills like health policy writing, understanding cost-effective services for patients and implementing programs to promote community health initiatives. A PhD in healthcare administration requires strong analytical skills and a passion for improving the world of healthcare in some way — be it through policy, healthcare law, government programs or innovative business ventures.

This educational route could be a good option for someone who already has a background in another field like finance, accounting, teaching or policy writing. PhD students are introduced to the intricacies of healthcare through the lens of business fundamentals. Most programs take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching students the necessary skills to make sound financial decisions in their roles as administrators, specialists, academics and researchers. Specific topics studied include comparative health systems analysis, strategic planning, healthcare IT and quality management in healthcare.

Receiving a PhD in healthcare administration could offer you an educational edge in the field, especially if you are interested in pursuing a career in academia or as a researcher in a private healthcare organization or government agency.

Alternatives to a PhD

Although a PhD in healthcare administration is a great option for some, there are alternative degrees to consider. A Master of Health Administration (MHA) is a related degree that is designed specifically for aspiring healthcare administrators. Through an MHA, students gain the multidimensional skill sets necessary for advancement within healthcare organizations. While a PhD is often pursued by those interested in working in academia or in research organizations, an MHA can open new doors within a variety of healthcare institutions and private companies.

When considering a PhD or an MHA, it’s also important to compare the specific requirements of each program, which can vary according to the institution. Some graduate programs may be a better fit for working professionals while others may require students to take time off work to pursue an advanced degree full time. Whether you decide to earn a PhD or an MHA, the field of healthcare administration has plenty of opportunities for growth, innovation and advancement.