Online Healthcare Degree Programs
Healthcare is a large, complex, and evolving field in which physicians and nurses are only the most visible practitioners. There are in fact dozens of other types of specialists whose expertise and services are integral to the healthcare system. These specialists include a wide and varied range of allied health professionals who work as nutritionists and dietitians, physical therapists, clinical researchers, medical technicians, information technologists, regulatory compliance and safety officers, policy experts, program administrators, and organizational leaders.
Making an informed decision about career preparation and advancement in healthcare can be difficult. There are different types of degree and certificate programs for various healthcare specializations and often several pathways for career advancement within each field. Clinical healthcare fields generally require practitioners to receive supervised training through formal internships and practicums prior to applying for state licensure and/or professional certification. However, there are degree programs that allow students to fulfill internship requirements while taking all or most of their classes online. There are also online programs that offer professional training and instruction in non-clinical areas of healthcare, such as public health and healthcare administration, and in the management of healthcare data and informatics systems.
These online healthcare degree programs represent a flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based programs, and provide a more convenient option for students who would prefer not to move, travel, or commute to a school’s campus in order to earn a degree in the field.
How Classifies Online Healthcare Degree Programs
conducts in-depth, independent research into online baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in healthcare and classifies these programs based on several important criteria. In order to be included on the site, a healthcare degree program must be offered by a regionally accredited, non-profit college or university. In addition, all or most of the program’s didactic instruction must be offered online. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits or on-campus sessions per year are considered hybrid or campus-based programs and are not included on the site.
Online healthcare degree programs are classified based on their degree level, and through an analysis of program curricula using the best available data and information from recognized institutional and programmatic accreditation organizations. Currently, identifies healthcare programs in the following areas and groups them accordingly:
- Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration (BHA) Programs: Online BHA programs provide students with a designated major in the administrative aspects of healthcare, including instruction in the economics of healthcare, the operation challenges of managing healthcare enterprises, and complexities of healthcare policy.
- Bachelor’s in Health Science (BHS) Programs: Online BHS programs offer a major in either health science or health sciences, which generally includes coursework in biology, physiology, psychology, and other medical sciences, and can serve as preparation for graduate studies in various clinical fields, including medicine, dentistry, nutrition, and pharmacology.
- Master’s in Clinical Research Programs: A master’s-level curriculum in clinical research prepares students for the administrative and management challenges of coordinating and facilitating healthcare research projects for hospitals, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and academic institutions.
- Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) Programs: The MHA degree is designed to provide students with advanced knowledge and proficiencies in the various functional areas of running hospitals and other healthcare businesses, including financial management and budgeting, staffing and human resources, and logistics and quality control.
- Master’s in Health Informatics Programs: Studying health informatics or health information management (HIM) at the master’s level involves coursework in the design and management of healthcare database and electronic medical records systems, the data mining process, analytics methods, and the legal and privacy issues surrounding patient data.
- Master’s in Nutrition Programs: Online master’s in nutrition programs provide students with advanced theoretical and practice-based training in the science of food and diet, nutritional assessment protocols, health and wellness programs, and the therapeutic use of nutrition to treat disease and other medical issues.
- Master’s in Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality (PSHQ) Programs: Students in an online master’s in PSHQ program learn how advances in healthcare technologies and evidence-based clinical practice are applied in clinical care settings to reduce risk, improve outcomes, and create a culture of accountability around patient safety and healthcare quality issues.
- Master’s in Public Health (MPH) Programs: The MPH curriculum is designed to provide students with the tools to connect research in healthcare, medicine, and social science to practical policies that improve community and population health and reduce the incidence of chronic and infectious diseases.
- Master’s in Regulatory Science and Affairs Programs: A master’s-level curriculum in regulatory science and affairs covers topics relevant to managing the research, development, and approval processes for drugs, medical devices, biotechnology products, and other therapeutics that are regulated by state, federal, and international agencies.
- Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) Programs: Online tDPT programs are designed to provide advanced training and a terminal degree to licensed, practicing physical therapists through a curriculum that includes coursework in diagnostic imaging, pharmacology, and business management principles for PTs.
Additional Healthcare Program Resources
As part of our research into online healthcare degree programs, consults with and interviews experts in various healthcare fields and aggregates the most up-to-date information on trends and developments in healthcare education. The program pages below provide detailed information on admissions requirements and accreditation standards for each type of degree program, as well as on program curricula, internship requirements, and issues related to online program formats, such as the difference between synchronous and asynchronous instruction. In our FAQ section we provide answers to commonly asked questions about education, training, certifications, licensure, and careers in healthcare. Check out our school profiles to learn more about featured healthcare degree programs.