Online Health Science Degree programs span many facets of health and the delivery of healthcare. Health science filters and applies knowledge from statistics, epidemiology, health information technology, and business practices to address or solve real time issues. Its many practices might be used to promote healthy behavior, improve health systems, quality of care, public policy, and more.
Many health science graduate programs offer areas of emphasis to allow online learners the opportunity to refine skills in a field of study that might align with professional and academic goals.
written by Rana Waxman
At the graduate levels, online Health Science degree programs are offered as Masters and Doctorate degrees, as well as certificates. Health science graduate programs often serve as an umbrella for several types of professional practice and academic degrees.
Students who pursue a health science degree online could conveniently study through a web-based learning platform. Many online health science degree programs have classes that are designed to take the same amount of time as on-campus ones. They are often taught by the same faculty members and may have comparable assignments to campus programs—although the delivery method differs, and there is no commute. This may make it possible for students to access courses and maintain a career or other responsibilities.
In terms of formats, some universities might engage learners though live web conferencing activities and/or learner audio-video recordings to encourage participation in real-time. Others might be self-paced, and students might take part in discussions through email and the course management system.
Also, the format does not necessarily alter one's choices. Online grad students could often select from multiple emphasis tracks, which enables students to tailor their studies. We discuss some examples from sponsored schools below, and readers could refer to individual universities for more information.
DID YOU KNOW?
When surveyed about their education level, 21% of Clinical Trials Systems Administrators reported they had a Master's Degree (according to O Net).
An online Master of Health Science (MHS) degree is a professional masters degree that is offered through different university departments. Some masters in health science online programs span about 30 to 36 credits, which could take students about two years of full-time study.
That said, several universities may offer graduate certificate programs in the same topics. Usually these only involve about 18 credits and thus might be completed in less time than a full degree. While not degrees in and of themselves, a certificate might be a great way to earn graduate-level knowledge and possibly, prepare for a Masters degree later on.
Applicants may need to furnish transcripts that show they have earned a bachelors degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Candidates might also need to submit a resume, statement of purpose and letters of recommendation.
Typically, the scope of an MHS online degree program includes courses from multiple disciplines. Classes often bring in aspects of population health, statistical methods, and an overview of the ethical issues that confront health care. Also, students might be exposed to courses that tackle the administrative side of health care. Things such as how to plan a research project or navigate rules and regulatory practices. Yet other topics might enable students to learn about the structure and operations of the U.S. healthcare delivery system, healthcare economics, finance, quality assurance, and policy. While the MHS does provide some freedom to explore a specific area of study, students may be required to take about one third of their credits in the following health science core topics:
There are several different tracks that might be used to tailor a MHS online program to one’s professional goals. Aside from core courses, students typically fulfill the remainder credits in their chosen area, and may need to complete a hands-on practicum in their local community or write a thesis capstone.
Clinical Research Administration (CRA): An online MHS in Clinical Research Administration provides students with an overview on the logistic and operational factors needed to complete and conduct a clinical research study. Coursework might also discuss regulatory pathways for drugs, medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, and related risks and strategies. Other important aspects of CRA could include instruction in medical and clinical writing so that students could learn how to accurately documents and present results. Specific areas of application include the steps for preparation of NDA and submission to U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Professional Studies: Online students who want to prepare to apply to medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary school might pursue an MHS with a biomedical focus. Coursework could aim to help fortify students’ knowledge in in biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, histology, anatomy and physiology, as well as science communication skills. Studies could also include a health science core that explores the legal, ethical, management, and public health issues of health care.
Health Informatics: An online Master of Health Science in Health Informatics could explore the practical aspects of health care information systems. This typically includes technical coursework in data capture, storage, and processing, with specific focus on electronic medical records and the security and regulations that accompany them. In terms of security, students might study to develop their grasp of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), accountability, and disclosure processes. Additional courses might provide more insight into data entry, health systems standards and regulations, data modeling, ethical and legal concerns, visualization and output of data, and other topics involved in how medical data is managed and processed.
Regulatory Science: Online students who pursue an MHS in Regulatory Science could explore history, theory and structures relevant to healthcare products and professional practices. Coursework might discuss healthcare product patents and licenses as well as the research methods used to support product license applications. Required courses might explore clinical trial research, ethics and steps to prepare a New Drug application (NDA) submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An online Master of Science in Health Science could be a more academic version of the MHS, but it is the university, ultimately, that formats its programs. Also multi-faceted, an MSHS could examine some of the same coursework as the MHS. However, in some schools, students might engage with a curriculum that offers major courses, research courses (biostatistics, epidemiology), professional courses, and limited elective. Therefore, its approach may be somewhat more technical and less broad.
An online Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) is a terminal, professional practice degree. While other PhD programs in health science might focus on scholarly research, the DHSc degree focuses on applied research. Graduates could be prepared to understand, manage, and assess solutions to challenges in areas such as health care access, cost, and quality.
Curricula for an online DHS degree could meld several of these themes:
Decision analysis courses address topics such as the principles of management and leadership to acquaint students with various decision analysis tools and how they might be applied to healthcare delivery, quality improvement, and research. A course in healthcare information systems might explore the application of technology to patient care, decision-making, and overall operations. Health science courses could expand on the components and challenges of healthcare systems. These courses could discuss health administration, law and ethics, as well as population health and climate change.
In some universities, online students may have to complete about 70 credit hours of study which may include some face-to-face time at their campus. Because a Doctor of health science online degree program typically promotes application of research to professional practice, students may need to complete an applied research project. These requirements generally take a full-time student about three years to complete.
Applicants to some PhD programs in health science could need a master's degree and relevant experience, and may need to submit a current resume, essay, and transcripts. Please refer to individual schools and programs for more details.
Online students might focus their DHSc in a concentration area to further define their skill sets. Each targeted area usually involves a series of relevant coursework and case studies.
Global Health: An online DHS in Global Health could provide an in-depth look at key global health issues, such as determinants of health, areas of disease burden, and the role that new health technologies might solve these problems. Students might also study the impact of infectious and chronic diseases on the world’s population with a spotlight on the health status of women, children and the poor. Other courses could address political, economic, and ethical issues that relate to preparedness, human rights, and resource application.
Leadership and Organizational Behavior: Online students interested in models of leadership and leadership practices might pursue this track within their DHSc degree program. Coursework could focus on the development of health policy and the social, economic, and political influences on it. Other courses might address the role of teams in organizations, stages of team development, and interpersonal processes.
Fundamentals of Education: Those students whose interests lie in teaching and the ways people learn might pursue their online DHSc with a focus in the fundamentals of education. Coursework could examine evidence from neuroscience, behavioral, cognitive, psychological, and social factors that are inherent in the ways adults learn. Online students might also study some of the main theories of learning: behaviorism, social cognition, information processing, constructivism, cognitive learning, and motivation. Further courses could discuss how to plan lessons and build curricula.
An online Doctor of Health Administration is a terminal, practice-focused degree. Often, it is tailored for health administrators who want to develop their ability to apply research and leadership practices. Consequently, students might expect to complete a capstone where they apply scholarly research within a specific context to advance their grasp in the science and practice of the health administration profession and solve organization, institutional, or community issues.
Applicants may need a related masters degree with a 3.0 GPA, but each school has distinct admissions requirements, so it's best to refer to individual schools.
In some universities with online DHA programs, simulations and group problem solving might be used to foster collaborative and communication skills. In their coursework, students might address how to align healthcare policy with organizational principles to improve an overall healthcare environment. Other topics might discuss strategic financial management and organizational business and leadership practices.
Aside from informative courses, students might need to complete an extensive supervised practicum, which might round out their studies with real-life experience.
Students could earn an online health science degree through a regionally accredited university. Accredited schools meet or exceed established standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, and student services. It is also a key factor in the ability to transfer credits among institutes of higher education.
Discover how you might earn your health science degree online. Compare online health science degree programs at the Masters and Doctoral levels, then easily contact schools with the on-page form.