What is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration Degree?

A Doctor of Healthcare Administration Degree is designed to produce professional leaders who will strategically shape the direction of health care. Graduates of these programs are prepared to assume top leadership roles in academia, public policy and health care practice and administration.

Resource: Top 10 DHA Online Programs 2016-2017

Program Overview

The doctor of health care administration program will offer advanced learning opportunities in health care leadership. The program trains leaders in clinical, education and management areas to help them successfully navigate and implement changes in dynamic health care environments. These programs prepare graduates to assume upper level managerial roles within the health care delivery system. They are designed for licensed, certified or registered health care practitioners who plan on assuming facility administration positions within health care organizations.

In order to gain admittance, most programs will require a regionally accredited master’s degree. Most students will have a degree related to health care management, administration or information technology. Students will likely need to have a GPA of at least 3.0 to qualify. Most students will have at least five or more years of experience in health care policy, management or clinical specialty. Most programs require students to submit a current resume, a few letters of recommendation and official GRE scores.

Curriculum Content

Most doctoral health care administration programs require students to learn about leadership strategies in health environments, which will explore the tactics that generate value, growth and competitive advantages in health care organizations. Students will be introduced to analytical concepts, techniques and frameworks. Studying the foundations of health policy examines the legal, political and economic issues that relate to the health care delivery system. The majority of degree programs include classes on quality, safety and process improvement initiatives.

Almost all programs will include classes about strategic change management because graduates must understand planning, resource allocation, process implementation and program evaluation tools. Understanding the current trends in licensure and accreditation will prepare students to maintain compliance with appropriate laws. Studying health care regulations will prepare graduates to successfully handle the legal issues and ethical dilemmas that administrators face every day in the delivery of health care. Classes on health economics discuss of the trends, theories and market issues related to health care delivery.

Common Questions

Doctor of health care administration programs result in a professional degree while PhD programs result in a research degree. The doctorate degree focuses on the application of real-world research while the latter focuses on the generation and critique of original research. Most of these programs are designed to be completed in three years or less. Programs will generally accept approximately 10 to 15 per class. This is to ensure that resources are available and that students receive adequate attention.

In order to gain acceptance, most admissions committees will conduct individual interviews. Non-health care related doctoral work will not transfer into the program, but some schools do allow students to transfer previously completed doctorate work from regionally accredited health care universities. Most programs require students to write and successfully defend a doctoral project proposal in which they narrate a problem and the questions to be answered. Students will probably need to conduct literature reviews and investigative research to complete the project.

Some doctor of healthcare administration degree programs will require students to complete a doctoral research project that must be defended.