According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in medical administration will grow faster than those for many other occupations through 2020. Although these workers typically need just a bachelor's degree to get a job, obtaining advanced education such as a Ph.D. in health management may allow for more and higher-paying career options.
Majors in Ph.D. executive programs for health management vary slightly. For instance, the University of Kansas in Kansas City offers a Ph.D. in health policy and management, while the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor delivers a program with the title of Health Services Organization and Policy. The majors share a common focus on combining social policy, research skills, organizational management and behaviors related to medical institutions and health care delivery. Medical schools and business schools offer such options.
To enter these Ph.D. programs, applicants typically need to possess a master's degree in a wide variety of fields such as public policy, social science, nursing, business or biology, since the doctoral program synthesizes concepts from all such disciplines. Course work often focuses on financing, so a background including statistics may be needed. Some demand specific course work at the master's level. For instance, the University of Kansas expects applicants to have graduate course work in health care finance, management, organizational behavior, policy, economics and delivery systems.
Course work covers topics such as law, leadership, ethics, biostatistics and typical concerns in health care administration. Curriculum within the programs often includes many research courses such as a research practicum, research design and data analysis techniques, culminating in a doctoral dissertation. The research project allows students to apply the theoretical concepts from classroom study to real-life situations in health care management. For instance, students at Yale's program have focused on ideas such as the effect of social media on health behavior, increasing health care for low-income groups and the impact of work on health. Since the Ph.D. in health care management also prepares students to work as educators, some institutions such as Harvard require students to teach before graduating.
Doctor of Public Health
An alternative to the Ph.D. in health care management is the Dr.PH. The Dr.PH focuses less on education and research and more on administration in the field. Admissions requirements are typically similar in both programs, and they also generally demand some research study and a doctoral dissertation, but students take classes more focused on experience. For instance, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, students take two field training courses and then several levels of professional experience courses working under supervision of an experienced professional.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Health Services Managers
- University of Kansas Medical Center: Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management
- University of Michigan School of Public Health: Ph.D. Program in Health Services Organization and Policy
- Harvard Business School: Health Policy (Management)
- Yale School of Public Health: Health Policy and Management
- Johns Hopkins: FAQ
- Johns Hopkins: Doctor of Public Health in Healthcare Management & Leadership
- University of North Carolina: DrPH Admissions and Tuition
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.