Online EdD Programs in Healthcare Professions: Health, Healthcare Administration, and Nursing Education

Updated: March 27, 2024

Healthcare leadership and administration, as well as pedagogy and training in the health care field, are crucial in the effective delivery of quality care to patients, from routine primary care to management of serious chronic and acute diseases and conditions. Professionals with training in educational leadership and organizational administration can have a powerful impact on improving the operation and performance of healthcare organizations. They can also play a key role in the preparation of future medical and healthcare professionals.

Individuals who work in a healthcare profession, including healthcare leadership, healthcare administration, and/or nursing, may qualify for additional career advancement opportunities by pursuing a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). There are currently 19 online Ed.D. programs in healthcare administration, healthcare education, nursing education, and human performance can prepare students to coordinate and manage teams and departments within hospitals and medical centers, educate nurses and other health care professionals in clinical and academic settings, and train health care personnel.

Types of Online Ed.D. Programs for Healthcare Professions

There are several different types of online Ed.D. programs in the healthcare field to match the leadership needs of diverse individuals in the health care space. Examples of Ed.D. programs that are geared towards health care professionals include the following:

  • Online Ed.D. in Healthcare Administration/Leadership: This type of program focuses on giving students the knowledge of healthcare systems and institutions, as well as the advanced organizational management, program development, and strategic research and planning skills to optimize the operation of health care organizations such as hospitals, clinics, and community health centers.
  • Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education: This type of program focuses specifically on nursing pedagogy, from the development of effective nursing curricula to the practice of teaching and mentoring nursing students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in these programs also learn how to use research methods to evaluate the effectiveness of nursing programs and to implement evidence-based practices to improve learning outcomes.
  • Online Ed.D. in Health and Human Performance: This type of program focuses on teaching students the science of human kinesiology and performance, as well as human health promotion and disease prevention. Such programs also have a research and program development focus, where students learn how to conduct research in their field of study, apply for funding such as grants, and also design and implement exercise, nutrition, and other wellness programs for audiences ranging from children to adults.
  • Online Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership for Behavioral Health: This type of program is generally geared towards licensed behavioral health professionals who want to advance into program development, program management, and institutional or team leadership in behavioral health care settings. Such programs will typically cover concepts such as supervision and mentorship of mental health care professionals, cross-cultural leadership in mental health care, and entrepreneurship and business management principles’ relevance to behavioral health care.
  • Online Ed.D. in Human Services Administration: This type of program prepares individuals to assume management and administrative roles within human services systems and institutions, with the aim of optimizing the quality of human services and the positive impact on populations in need. Students in such programs will generally take classes about human services systems and policies, the structure and management of human services agencies, leadership skills in the human services space, resource development, and research.

Students interested in online Ed.D. programs for health professions should note that the doctoral programs described above are just examples and do not represent the entire range of Ed.D. programs in this space. Students should always research their program options thoroughly to find the school and program specialization that best fit their interests, professional experience, and career goals.

Curricula for Online Ed.D. Programs for Healthcare Professions

As the different types of programs listed above illustrate, online Ed.D. programs for healthcare professions are quite diverse, and their curriculum depends on their specific area of focus within health care leadership, education, and/or administration. Nevertheless, online Ed.D. programs with a health care focus typically have courses on quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, as well as study design methods as they relate to conducting research into health care organizational operations, program development or management, or medical/nursing education outcomes. Below are descriptions of the research core courses that an Ed.D. program for health professionals may include:

  • Qualitative Research Methods and Design: This course gives students an overview of advanced qualitative research methodologies, including interviews, ethnography, focus groups, content analysis, narrative research, and more. Students conduct literature reviews and design a qualitative study based on their own areas of interest in health care administration and/or pedagogy.
  • Quantitative Research Methods and Design: This course provides an overview of advanced quantitative research techniques, including surveys, polls, and the gathering and analysis of numerical data to gain insight into a particular phenomenon. Students conduct literature reviews and learn how to design a study, applying this knowledge to a practical study design on a topic of their choice in organizational leadership or education in health care.
  • Advanced Statistics: Students in this course learn inferential and descriptive statistic methodologies and their applications in organizational decision making and education program development and improvement. Random variables, distributions, p-values and confidence intervals, and other key concepts and methods are covered.

Apart from core research classes, online Ed.D. programs for health professions tend to vary based on their specific specialization. For example, an Ed.D. in Nursing Education will have very different coursework than an Ed.D. in Human Services Administration. To provide an idea of the curriculum students can expect from an Ed.D. with a health care emphasis, below are sample courses for an Online Ed.D. in Healthcare Administration and an Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education, which are two of the more common Ed.D. program specializations designed for healthcare professionals.

Online Ed.D. in Healthcare Administration

The online Ed.D. in Healthcare Administration is typically comprised of advanced research courses, classes specifically pertaining to leadership of health care organizations and groups, and credits for students’ students work on a dissertation, research project, or other culminating experience. Examples of classes that might be included in an Ed.D. in Healthcare Administration include:

  • Organization and Management of Healthcare Systems: The organizational structure of health care organizations and the strategies and principles that enable health care administrators and leaders to support organizational improvements and meet the needs of health care providers, patients, business partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Finance and Budgeting in Health Care: This course covers finance management, budgeting, and accounting principles for health care organizations, with the aim of optimizing patient care and organizational sustainability. Health care economics at the national, state, hospital, and individual levels, and how leaders in the health care space can balance different economic and health care needs within the context of overseeing a health care organization or system.
  • Ethics and Law in Health Care: The laws, regulations, and mandates at the state and federal levels that impact health care organizations and their delivery of care. Students learn about and discuss key legal and ethical processes such as informed consent, patient privacy and disclosures, and end-of-life decisions, and how to handle these processes across diverse health care situations within a medical organization. This course also covers the definitions of malpractice and negligence in health care, and how to avoid and/or address these legal and ethical concerns.
  • Health Care System Evaluation and Improvement: How to implement qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate the efficacy of health care practices, programs, teams, and overall systems, and determine areas of and methods for improvement to optimize patient health outcomes and quality of care. Students discuss and learn about the interplay between evaluation/assessment, program design, and implementation.

Note: Prospective students of online Ed.D. programs in Healthcare Administration or a related field should bear in mind that the sample courses above are not representative of all Ed.D. programs in Healthcare Administration available nationwide. Course titles and content vary across programs, and therefore to obtain the most accurate information about a given program in this field, students should always contact an admissions representative at their programs of interest.

Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education

The online Ed.D. in Nursing Education typically covers the history of nursing pedagogy, as well as the evolution of this field to the present day. This doctoral degree also trains nursing professionals to step into the role of professor, mentor, academic administrator, and researcher to prepare future generations of nurses at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. As a result, the curriculum for such programs often contain courses such as the following:

  • Curriculum Development in Nursing Higher Education: The process of developing an effective nursing curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students learn the key components of a comprehensive nursing curriculum, how to sequence courses, and how to introduce and build upon concepts, skills, principles, and research methodologies to empower students in applied projects and practical experiences.
  • Teaching Methodologies and Principles in Nursing Education: The key elements of learning development for the adult learner in the health care space. The pedagogical methods and principles that should underpin all curriculum content, structuring, and delivery. Instructional methods and strategies for classroom lectures, seminar discussions, labs, clinical settings, and other important contexts are discussed.
  • Law, Ethics, and Regulations in Nursing Higher Education: An overview of the national and state standards for nursing education and the CCNE accreditation that nursing programs must earn in order to offer programming (as well as the process of and requirements for accreditation). How nursing education programs can work to ensure that their courses, teaching methodologies, student support systems, and other program elements align with the required standards put forth by the CCNE as well as state boards of nursing.
  • Technology and Innovation in Nursing Education: The latest innovative technologies that are being used in nursing curricula, both in traditional on-campus settings and online environments, to enhance students’ engagement with course content and ability to apply skills. How nurse educators should combine evidence-based teaching strategies and best practices with learning technologies such as simulation in classroom and clinical environments.

Career Paths for Graduates of Online Ed.D. Programs for Health Professions

Due to the many different types of online Ed.D. programs that focus on health professions, the career paths that are available to graduates of such programs are diverse, and depend on graduates’ chosen specialization. Graduates of Ed.D. programs with a focus in health care leadership or health care education can step into roles such as healthcare administrator, professor of nursing, behavioral health program administrator, and more. Descriptions of these careers are below; students should bear in mind that these career descriptions are meant to serve as informational examples only, and do not exhibit the full range of possibilities in terms of roles and responsibilities that are available to graduates of Ed.D. programs in a health care field.

  • College or University Dean: Deans oversee all of the important elements contributing to students’ learning outcomes for their college or institution. This includes managing their school’s budget and allocating resources across different departments, establishing research partnerships with other organizations to ensure their school has sufficient research funding, and collaborating with faculty and program directors to ensure that all academic programs offered at their institution have the content, structure, and student support to ensure student success. Deans also oversee faculty hiring for their college, working with departmental leaders and program directors to determine faculty and staffing needs based on student needs and research objectives.
  • Professor of Nursing: Nursing professors teach classes as part of nursing undergraduate and/or graduate programs. They also engage in course development, curriculum planning, and scholarly research on nursing education topics. Nursing professors also mentor nursing students and act as faculty advisors for students completing clinical practicums.
  • Healthcare Administrator: Healthcare administrators oversee the operations for healthcare and medical institutions such as hospitals, urgent care clinic networks, community health centers, health insurance companies, and other organizations. They oversee the performance of various departments within their organization, research ways of making operations more efficient and effective, manage their organization’s budget and financing, and work with health care practitioners and other medical staff to ensure quality delivery of patient/client care. Additionally, they often work with human resources to develop programs to support employees within their organization, and to provide professional training.
  • Behavioral Health Program Administrator: Behavioral Health Program Administrators oversee a network of behavioral health care specialists who work with patients to address mental, emotional, and behavioral health challenges. They oversee the implementation of therapy groups and programs, support behavioral health care professionals in their professional development through training programs and other initiatives, and oversee the finance and budgeting for their organization.

Online Doctor of Education Programs in Healthcare Professions

The following schools are sorted by state for easy reference; however, most online EdD programs accept students from other states as well. For out-of-state programs, students should confirm with an admissions advisor that the program accepts students from their state of residence before applying.



Grand Canyon University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


National University

(La Jolla)
Accreditation: WSCUC


Southern Connecticut State University

(New Haven)
Accreditation: NECHE, CAEP
Department: Department of Nursing

Western Connecticut State University

Accreditation: NECHE, CAEP
Department: School of Professional Studies - Department of Nursing


Nova Southeastern University

(Fort Lauderdale)
Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP
Department: Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Accreditation: SACSCOC
Department: Tanner Health System School of Nursing


Allen College

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


University of the Cumberlands

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CACREP, CAEP


A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: College of Graduate Health Studies

Logan University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: School of Education


Bryan College of Health Sciences

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Clarkson College

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: Education and Leadership

Nebraska Methodist College

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

New Jersey

Accreditation: MSCHE, CAEP
Department: College of Education


Accreditation: MSCHE, CAEP


Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP

Trevecca Nazarene University

Accreditation: SACSCOC, CAEP