2023 Best Online PhD in Health Sciences [Doctorate Guide]

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Earning your PhD in Health Sciences online could be the next step in advancing your career.

Best Online PhD in Health Sciences

With a wide variety of programs that allow you to immerse yourself in a specialization, a doctorate in health sciences can prepare you for a range of career options.

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Whether your interests lie in research, policy, or practicing in the healthcare and medical field, earning a doctorate in health science could be beneficial to your personal growth as well as your career aspirations.

Online PhD in Health Sciences Programs

Woman taking Online PhD in Health Science online

A health science doctoral program is intended to prepare you for the medical and healthcare fields from the perspective of education, research, policy design, and clinical evaluation.

In some cases, students earn a PhD in Health Sciences in conjunction with their medical doctor or nursing degrees. Medical practitioners might earn this PhD to prepare for careers in research, policy building and administration, or education.

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Earning a doctorate in health science degree online can also be a strategic step for those who don’t necessarily want to practice medicine but want to make a difference in the fields of healthcare and medical sciences. Students of health sciences will undergo rigorous training in areas such as:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Scientific writing
  • How to analyze research findings and apply them to current health science theory
  • Cultural and social concerns in the field of healthcare
  • The impact of policy building and administration on the medical sciences

Following graduation, many students of health science doctoral programs go on to complete intense research in their chosen field. While some graduates work as public policy administrators and community health directors, others become educators who promote public health or teach at the postsecondary level.

For those interested in the “how” and “why” of health sciences, earning a doctorate in this field can be a step in advancing not only your career but also your impact on the medical community.

Common Online Doctorate in Health Science Specializations

Exercise Physiologists evaluating client's progress

Health science doctoral programs, such as a PhD or an on-campus or online Doctor of Health Science, cover a large variety of specializations, much like the healthcare field itself. Not all health science doctoral programs offer the same specializations, so it’s beneficial to review each school’s program in detail.

Here are a few common specializations:

  • Behavior Analysis. This course of study provides a deep dive into understanding human behavior, including different learning methods, research strategy, and interventions.
  • Communicative Disorders. In this specialization, you’ll learn about speech and language pathology, including verbal and non-verbal communication methods and ethical research strategies.
  • Exercise and Sport Science. You’ll focus on human performance, exercise science, and orthopedic physiology in this course of study.
  • General Health Sciences. This specialization is ideal for those looking for a broad approach to health sciences, particularly for those aiming for a career in healthcare administration or management.
  • Human Development and Family Science. In this specialization, you’ll focus on the dynamics of family as well as developmental processes from birth to death.

In addition to offering other specializations, some schools provide you with the opportunity to tailor your specialization to your current research or future career goals. You can check each program’s course catalog for more details.

Health Science Careers & Salaries

Health Science Careers & Salaries

Students who graduate with a doctorate in health sciences often go on to practice as advanced clinicians, as researchers in their specialization, or as educators in their field.

Professional opportunities following graduation also depend on prior experience and continuous education. For instance, some who earn their doctorate in health sciences also complete a medical degree to allow them to practice and research in a specific field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for careers in the healthcare field is anticipated to increase by 13% over the next ten years.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $179,520
Physician Assistants $121,530
Training and Development Managers $120,130
Medical and Health Services Managers $101,340
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910
Medical Scientists $95,310
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Speech-Language Pathologists $79,060
Health Education Specialists  $60,600
Exercise Physiologists $47,940

Due to the nature of the degree, some professionals who earn their PhD in Health Sciences have very specific careers within these job fields. For example, a graduate might choose to research potential interventions for pediatric speech pathology, kinesiology, or health policy administration.

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The career options can vary greatly between doctoral students due to the wide spectrum of specializations offered, so you may wish to choose a program with your preferred specialization.

Health Science PhD Online Curriculum & Courses

People taking Health Science PhD, in a group study

The school and specialization you choose will play a significant role in the courses you may take as you pursue your doctorate in health science online. Many schools ask students to complete a few core classes as well.

Some common courses offered across many programs include:

  • Ethics in Health Science: When working with patients, subjects, and specimens, you’ll learn how to properly engage and follow procedures for the comfort and safety of everyone involved.
  • Global Healthcare Models: In this course, you’ll learn how health is promoted in a variety of different settings around the world.
  • Cultural Application of Medical Intervention: Social and cultural identity can be very important to those who participate in the healthcare field, as this course teaches.
  • Risk Management: This course helps you appreciate inherent risk and provides guidelines for being risk averse in the medical field.
  • Occupational Physiology: In this course, you’ll learn the impact of various positions, settings, and duties on the body at various stages in life.
  • Epidemiology: This course focuses on the prevention and risk associated with contagious diseases among a population.
  • Research Methods: You’ll learn how to appropriately conduct quantitative and qualitative research and experiments.
  • Legal Considerations of Health Sciences: In addition to the cultural and social considerations of medical science, you’ll be aware of the legalities of your chosen field.
  • Biostatistics: Learning how to combine statistical knowledge to biological data can be helpful for future practitioners, researchers, and educators in the field of health sciences.
  • Age-Specific Developmental Concerns: From pediatric to gerontologic, each stage of life includes its own concerns for health and well-being, as this course will teach.

In conjunction with your regular coursework, you may also be asked to devote a certain amount of credits to ongoing research and statistical analysis, depending on the program you select.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Health Science PhD

Just as with masters in health science online programs, each doctorate in health science online program will have its own admissions requirements, so it’s necessary to check out the application process in detail before you begin.

A few common admissions requirements include:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Transcripts from all previous education
  • Statement of intent
  • Professional resume
  • Sample of scholarly work

Many schools want to be certain that students are prepared for the amount of scholastic work, research, and analysis that is involved with health science doctoral programs. As a result, they may ask for details surrounding your relevant work to date.


University offering Health Science PhD

As you research potential health science doctoral programs, it’s beneficial to give special consideration to schools that are regionally accredited. Reputable regional accrediting organizations are recognized by CHEA, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

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Institutions of higher education that receive regional accreditation have been thoroughly evaluated for academic excellence. Employers and licensing or certification boards often require applicants to have earned their degree from an accredited school. Attending an accredited college or university is also a common stipulation for receiving financial aid.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Health Science PhD financial aid

Students looking for financial assistance can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This determines your eligibility for federal aid as well as other forms of needs-based aid.

Scholarships, fellowships, or assistantships are often available for doctoral students as well. You may wish to check with each school to determine what type of assistance is offered for students in your specialization. Private and public foundations may also offer financial assistance to students in a particular specialization of health sciences.

Doctoral students who are active within the health sciences or medical community may find additional opportunities for sponsorship and financial assistance through their current research or work.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Health Sciences?

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The opportunities available to you with a PhD in Health Sciences depends greatly on your area of study. A PhD in Health Sciences provides the opportunity to dig deep and focus on an area of healthcare that is meaningful to you.

A doctorate in health sciences prepares professionals for administrative, research, education, and management roles within the medical and healthcare fields. Many graduates go on to become advanced clinicians, researchers, or teachers in their specialization. Some students continue their education and career to become practicing physicians. Others devote their career to educating future health sciences students.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Health Science Online?

Man pursuing PhD degree in Health Sciences online

The time required to get a PhD in Health Science depends on the number of credit hours necessary for graduation. Programs vary in how many hours of course study are included.

Additionally, many schools require students to complete a dissertation as a condition of graduation. If this is the case, a PhD program can take between 3 to 5 years to complete. If no dissertation is required, students who enroll full-time may be able to receive their degree in 3 years.

What’s the Difference Between a Doctor vs. PhD in Health Sciences?

A Doctor of Health Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Sciences may sound similar, but they can provide students with a different education.

Doctor of Health Science PhD in Health Sciences
  • An applied degree
  • Based in practical application of skills
  • Offered with specialties that appeal to administrators and managers
  • A structured and specialized degree program
  • Academically based in research or education
  • Designed to allow students to continue research or teaching

There can be many commonalities between the two programs, depending on the school and the courses offered.

Is a PhD in Health Sciences Worth It?

Medical Scientists working in the clinical laboratory

Yes, a PhD in Health Sciences is worth it for many students. For those who wish to become part of the medical community by providing valuable research, educational opportunities, or administrative actions, earning a PhD in Health Sciences can be a rewarding step.

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Medical science—including research, education, and administration—is a field in which proficient professionals are continuously needed to keep our human population healthy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations are expected to see 13% job growth over the next ten years, and 10% job growth is projected for social and community service positions.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Health Sciences Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Faulkner University

Faulkner University

Faulkner University offers an online program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. This program may be an ideal fit for professionals interested in advanced administrative, clinical, or academic roles in healthcare. With courses starting every 5 weeks, incoming students may begin at their earliest convenience. Most students can complete the program’s 45 required credits in just 18 months.

Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University

Georgia State University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. This program is designed for master’s prepared healthcare professionals intending to pursue clinical and educational opportunities in their field. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours total. Students attend courses in a hybrid learning model that requires some online and some in-person attendance.

Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Commission on Colleges.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a fully online program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. Students can choose between General, Trauma-Informed Care, or Exercise Science specializations. The program allows incoming students to apply to transfer in up to 50% of their credits from outside institutions. Students can typically complete the program’s 60 required credits in 3 years.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. The program’s convenient online courses are complemented by hands-on, experiential learning opportunities on campus. The program’s 45 credit curriculum covers key aspects of research design, data analysis, and scholarship. Students can choose either part-time or full-time attendance models.

Northern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. The curriculum is designed to equip practitioners in healthcare for leadership roles in clinical, academic, and research settings. Potential courses include Global Epidemiology, Community Health Promotion, Evidence-Based Medical Practice, and Research Ethics. The program is housed entirely online.

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rocky Mountain University

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

Rocky Mountain University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. The program boasts 9 concentrations, allowing students to tailor their studies to their professional goals. Classes are held primarily online, though students are also required to complete hands-on clinical experiences in the field. Students can typically complete the program’s 70 required credits in 12 semesters of part-time attendance.

Rocky Mountain University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Rush University

Rush University

Rush University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. The interdisciplinary curriculum integrates biological, behavioral, educational, and clinical concepts. Courses cover topics like biostatistics, ethical conduct, education theory, and leadership in healthcare. Students can attend classes part-time or full-time and usually finish in 4 to 5 years.

Rush University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Trident University International

Trident University International

Trident University International offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. Students may choose a concentration in Global Health or Health Policy and Administration. The program offers 3, 4, and 5 year plans of study, all of which are 100% online. Graduates often pursue advanced roles in public health, health education, research, physical therapy, or molecular biology.

Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences. This program emphasizes skills in teaching, leadership, advanced practice, and scholarship. The curriculum consists of 75 required credit hours. All classes utilize an online learning model, though in-person opportunities are available periodically throughout the program.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University offers an interdisciplinary program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Health-Related Sciences. The program is designed for individuals hoping to advance their careers in specialties like laboratory sciences, occupational therapy, or patient counseling. Classes are held both online and in-person. The program requires the completion of 51 credit hours.

Virginia Commonwealth University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your PhD in Health Sciences Online

Woman getting Online PhD in Health Science

If you are interested in bringing your voice and skills to the intriguing world of health sciences, you might want to take a look at available online health sciences doctoral programs.

Earning your PhD in Health Sciences can provide you with the advanced knowledge and training to excel in a medical research or healthcare administration field. Many specializations are offered to help you tailor your studies to your area of interest.

You can take a look at some of the programs offered by accredited colleges and universities to determine which ones best match your professional goals and area of study. This could be your next step toward making an impact in the healthcare and medical fields.

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Jason earned his bachelor's degree in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University with a minor in history. A life-long learner with a love of philosophy, history, and science, Jason works in professional development, career enrichment, and improved business practices.