Health services doctoral degree programs take about three years to complete and are offered in fully online and hybrid formats. These programs may offer several areas of concentration and require students to complete a dissertation to graduate. Some online programs require students to complete some on-campus requirements throughout the program.
Consideration for entry typically requires proof of a master's degree from an accredited university, a minimum grade point average, work experience in the health care field, a resume or curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, a statement of interest and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Prospective students may also be interviewed by faculty before acceptance.
Doctorate in Health Services
These online doctoral programs teach students to use scientific bases in research to analyze, review and report on health service-related issues. Students also learn advanced skills in problem-solving, communication skills, evidence-based practices, ethical issues and overall health services management. Most schools also offer specialty concentrations that may include self-designed programs tailored to individual interests, or areas such as community health education and advocacy, healthcare administration, public health policy or clinical laboratory sciences.
These programs may require students to complete a dissertation to graduate. Some online programs require students to complete some on-campus requirements throughout the program.
Web-based health services doctorate degree options include programs that are completely online, mixed-model formats that combine online and in-person coursework or programs with the majority coursework online and on-campus seminar and dissertation defense requirements. All programs take approximately 2-3 years to complete. Approximately 60 credit hours are required beyond a master's degree and they are divided by semesters or quarters, depending on the school.
The curriculum in these doctoral degree programs focuses on advanced health-service and science-related theory, research, analysis, reporting, systems and management. The classes offered vary by school, but some are common to all Ph.D. programs in health services.
Healthcare Delivery and Information Systems
Students learn about components of the United States health delivery system including patients, professionals, organizations and technologies. Public and private payments, reimbursement methods, hospital systems, long-term care, wellness, prevention and ambulatory care are also studied in relation to health care delivery. Strategies for collecting, storing and retrieving data for management activities are also covered.
This class provides fundamental skills in research methods and approaches used in the health industry. Current research techniques, ethical considerations, data collection tools, analytical principles, evidence-based review skills, observation strategies and theoretical approaches are used to produce knowledge and present informative research results.
Students learn both quantitative and qualitative reasoning and interpretation skills used in health science. The research process, theory and philosophy of science are also studied. Problem-solving approaches and appropriate statistical testing skills are another concentration of this course.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage as of May 2015 was $94,500 for medical and health services managers. Employment was expected to grow 17% - much faster than the average for all occupations - between 2014 and 2024, and applicants with work experience and strong business management skills were expected to have the best job opportunities (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Many hospitals and health care facilities offer their employees postgraduate fellowships and residencies for those wishing to pursue further education.
Also, the American Health Information Management Association offers certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator. Applicants must possess a degree from an approved program and pass an exam to achieve this certification.
An online doctoral program in health services covers topics like healthcare information systems, data analysis and research to train students how to manage and improve health services. Graduates often work as medical and health services managers, and may pursue certification and/or further education in the form of residencies and postgraduate fellowships.