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Online Doctor of Medicine Degree

When pursuing an online doctorate of medicine degree, students target an aspect of the health care industry and concentrate their degree in that one specific area of health and medicine. Through these programs, students may prepare to pursue a career as a leader in their field.

Online doctorate of medicine programs tackle a comprehensive course of study that includes critical analysis, research, and writing assignments concentrated in the specific field you have chosen. As such, you may add your own research to the discourse during your course of study.

Online Doctorate of Medicine: Basics

As the terminal degree in the field, or the highest degree you can earn, an online doctorate in medicine is designed to prepare you to become an expert and leader in a specific field of health care. Therefore, courses usually require more research, writing, and analysis than other degree levels.

Admissions Requirements for Online PhD in Medicine

Every school has different admissions requirements for an online doctorate of medicine. For instance, some schools have strict GPA requirements, while others may focus more on professional experience.

Some of the most common admissions requirements include:

  • Masters degree from an accredited university
  • Masters degree GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Professional resume or CV (curriculum vitae)
  • Professional experience
  • Official transcripts
  • References
  • Statement of purpose

Some schools and programs may have specific course requirements that you must have taken while earning your masters degree. For example, some schools require that you’ve taken a masters level statistics or research methods course.

Many programs ask that you have some professional experience in the field you are pursuing your doctorate degree in. Some degrees also require that you’ve completed all certifications or licenses needed to practice professionally, if they are required in your field of study or in your state.

Different majors or concentrations may have additional, or stricter admissions requirements. Therefore, be sure to check with a number of schools to find one that matches your goals and your academic standing.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a PhD in Medicine?

While every school, program, concentration, and degree may have different requirements, typically, full-time students can earn their online doctorate of medicine in three years.

Usually, full-time students take two courses a semester. Some students may not be able to commit that type of time to their degree, and therefore pursue a PhD as a part-time student. Typically, this takes longer for you to earn your degree, but may provide more flexibility.

Online Doctorate of Medicine: Graduation Requirements

Typically, the graduation requirements to earn an online doctorate in medicine are:

  • Complete all required core courses
  • Complete courses required for concentration
  • Propose, write, present, and defend dissertation to board of faculty

Some health and medicine PhD programs require that you perform clinical residencies, which may require you to go to campus. However, this typically depends on the field and specific degree you are pursuing.

In addition, some programs don’t require that you perform a dissertation. Instead, schools may have a capstone project or writing assignment in its place. Check with a few schools before applying to find one that fits your goals.

Types of Online PhD Programs in Medicine

An online doctor of medicine degree is designed to teach a complete understanding of one of the many aspects of health care. These fields range from biotechnology to nursing to health education.

As the health care industry continues to grow there are many variations of doctoral degrees you can choose from. Many PhD programs focus on one specific component in order to teach you a complete understanding of all the principles and key concepts in the field.

Therefore, many students have a specific focus and are looking for a degree that matches those interests when searching for PhD programs.

Concentrations and Majors You Can Choose for Online Doctorate of Medicine Programs

In order to develop the next generation of leaders and researchers in the health care industry, PhD programs require plenty of research, analysis, and writing assignments in a particular field.

This typically involves a number of courses designed to analyze the key concepts and theories in health and medicine.

Some of the concentrations you may be able to choose for your online PhD in medicine include:

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list. Many schools offer a number of other majors or concentrations, and others may offer less. In order to find the perfect program for you, consider all of the majors that may help you pursue your goals.

In addition to those listed above, some of the other PhD degrees in medicine are listed below.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

If you choose to pursue an online doctor of nursing practice degree, typically you are given the option to choose a concentration. Some of these include:

  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthesia

Though there may be other concentrations, some programs may be designed to allow students to choose between a practitioner track and an executive track. A practitioner typically wants to remain in clinical practice, whereas an executive usually wants to enter into health care management.

Many DNP programs require a specific number of clinical hours in order to provide you with an opportunity to apply the concepts from class. Therefore, you may have to go to campus at certain points while earning your online degree, but the specific requirements vary from school to school.

Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc)

Health sciences combines technology, science, and health care in order to find new ways to evaluate, manage, and implement improvements to the health care system.

Just like the overall health care industry, there are wide variety of options when it comes to earning and online doctorate in health sciences. Some of these include:

  • Clinical Research Administration
  • Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Medical Informatics

Besides those listed, there are still many other options available. However, some schools only offer some of the concentrations, while others may offer less. Be sure to check with a number of schools in order to find one that matches your goals.

Important Topics You May Study in Health and Medicine

Earning an online doctorate in medicine is all about understanding how to use the tools available in order to provide better health care to patients. Therefore, while the specific courses you may take will vary depending on which major or concentration you’ve chosen, there are some core principles that remain the same.

For instance, some of the key topics in health and medicine while earning your PhD include:

  • Evidence-based leadership approaches in the health care industry
  • Perform advanced scientific inquiry and data analysis
  • Apply ethical and legal principles to health care service
  • Establish a foundation for lifelong learning for continual evaluation of new findings in the field

Each of these have different applications to different fields or majors. For instance, leadership principles may vary depending on whether you’re pursuing a health care administration degree or a doctor of nursing practice.

In addition, while the ethical and legal principles are similar across all fields of health and medicine, there may be different applications in the different fields. Each of the different majors or concentrations focus on how to apply these principles to a specific field of study.

Common Courses in Health and Medicine PhD Programs

Depending on the major you choose, and the design of the program, the specific courses you take may vary. However, while pursuing your online doctorate in medicine, courses place an emphasis on critical analysis, research, data, and writing.

That way, programs may help prepare you to add your own findings, research, and theories to the field of you have chosen, either through your dissertation or later in your career.

Some of the common courses in health and medicine include:

  • Innovative Business Practices in Health Care
  • Scholarly Methods in Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Evaluation and Interpretation of Data in Health Care
  • Global Health and Issues in Disease Prevention
  • Health Care Quality Management
  • Nursing Technology and Health Care Information Systems
  • 21st Century Health Care Leadership
  • Strategic Health Care Economics and Policy
  • Occupational and Environmental Health
  • Risk and Safety Management in Health Care

While researching schools, check the curriculum for the programs you’re interested in to get a better idea of your specific course of study.

What’s the Difference Between and MD and a PhD?

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a practicing degree in which students typically have four years in medical school and three years completing a residency or fellowship. After completing all requirements, an MD can practice as a doctor in a specific field to treat patients.

On the other hand, a PhD is a research degree. Often, students who earn an online doctorate of medicine pursue careers as college professors, researchers, or in management roles in the health care industry. However, while they are referred to as “doctors” they are not practicing medical doctors like MDs are.

Careers in the Medical Field

The health care industry continues to grow as new technology and medicines have lengthened the average life span. As a result, there are more people that are living longer and that need more health care.

As a result, upon earning your online doctorate of medicine, there are a number of different careers that you may pursue. These are just as varied as the types of majors or concentrations for PhD programs. While each have different specific activities, all are focused on providing patients with the best possible care.i

Some of the careers you can pursue in health and medicine, and their 2016 median annual salary, include:

  • Occupational Therapists: $81,910ii
  • Pharmacists: $122,230iii
  • Physical Therapists: $85,400iv
  • Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners: $107,460v
  • Physician Assistants: $101,480vi

Many of those listed require that you have earned a doctorates degree. However, you may only need a masters degree to become a nurse practitioner.vii You may also only need a masters degree to become an occupational therapist, though some have a doctoral degree.viii

In addition to those listed, you may also pursue a career as a postsecondary teacher. In 2016, the median annual salary for a health specialties postsecondary teacher was $99,360.ix

Additional Licenses or Certifications You May Need

Similarly to most professions in the health care industry, almost all of the positions above require additional licenses or certifications in addition to a graduate degree. For instance, all states require that occupational and physical therapists are licensed.x

In addition, all states require that pharmacists are licensed as well, by requiring prospective pharmacists to pass two exams:

  1. North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)
  2. Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE)xi

Nurse practitioners also need to have a registered nursing license. The specific details vary from state to state, as most states recognize each of the different roles, some states simply have a general licensure.vii

Get Ready to Earn Your Online Doctorate of Medicine!

Take the next step to earn your online doctorate of medicine. Learn more about individual programs by clicking on any of the sponsored listings on this page. Individual school pages have specific program details, admissions requirements, and the specific courses of study for various doctorate degrees in health and medicine.

Many also offer a number of different majors and concentrations in health and medicine so you can compare the details to find the perfect program for you. You can even reach out to your favorite schools directly to get more information and apply today.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-2 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm#tab-5 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm#tab-5 [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm#tab-5 [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-5 [vi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm#tab-5 [vii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 [viii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm#tab-4 [ix] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-5 [x] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm#tab-4 [xi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm#tab-4

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