Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to the Program

Yes, a post-baccalaureate professional degree or master's degree from a regionally accredited university is required for admission.

No, the GRE and GMAT tests are not required for admission to the DHA program.

Academic charges for the current academic cycle can be found in the MUSC Bulletin. Tuition and fees do not include travel expenses to Charleston for the on-campus sessions or books.

Yes, financial aid services are available.

Applications are currently being accepted for the next cohort that will begin in fall. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year; however, we encourage all applications to be submitted by the end of June prior to the fall semester of enrollment.

DHA students are eligible to apply for our College of Health Professions scholarships. In addition, we encourage students to explore scholarship opportunities through their professional organizations, community, and employer.

About the Program

The DHA is an applied professional degree emphasizing the solving of real-world problems or addressing issues of practical concern. The Ph.D. is a research-oriented degree emphasizing generation of new knowledge.

The program is designed to be completed in 3 years. This includes 2 years of coursework and a doctoral project. More than half of students complete the program in 2 years and 2 semesters (approx. 32 months). Some students take longer to complete the doctoral project. However, the program must be completed within 7 years of admission.

Yes! The program is designed for students who are working full-time in high-level healthcare positions. Therefore, two courses (6 credit hours) per semester is considered full time enrollment.

No, the MUSC DHA program is a blended format. The didactic portion of the program includes one on-campus visit per semester. This typically occurs in September, January, and June during the didactic portion of the program. We meet in Charleston, South Carolina each semester for a 3- to 4-day session. In the spring semester of the 2nd year, the Charleston visit is replaced by the policy trip to Washington DC.

These sessions are integral to the program and are a mandatory part of each course. Curriculum plans that include the dates of all on-campus sessions are provided prior to enrollment. Generally, if an unexpected conflict arises the student can take the class with the next year's cohort of students, however this would add time to the completion of the program.

Curriculum and Course Work

Given that all students are working full-time there is some flexibility built into the program. Each week the course information, assignments, lectures, and activities will be posted. The students are free to complete the course activities and requirements as it fits his/her schedule as long as final due dates are met. Some courses incorporate live Zoom or Teams sessions. When these sessions are offered, they are also recorded and available for students who have work obligations that prevent logging in at a specified time.

No, the DHA program is designed to build strategic thinking and evidence-based decision making. Therefore, courses rarely require traditional tests. Instead, the course competencies are obtained through reading, writing, group projects and presentations. During the final year, there is a comprehensive exam. This is taken prior to the final semester of coursework. The exam is in essay format and is designed to show overarching understanding of the DHA core topics (e.g. leadership, health policy, applied research). Successful completion of the comprehensive exam is a traditional component of doctoral programs and a strong indicator that the student is ready to undertake independent doctoral project work.

Doctoral Project

Both the DHA doctoral project and Ph.D. dissertation are scholarly research endeavors designed to add to the evidence base of a specific topic. The end goal for a Ph.D. dissertation is typically a three paper (or 5 chapter) written document, with a heavy theoretical component. The DHA doctoral project, is geared towards an applied one paper (or 5 chapter) written document that examines a complex healthcare issue within the real-world healthcare setting and context.

We encourage students to begin exploring the doctoral project area at the start of the program, by choosing topics for course assignments that are related to their project interests. During the summer semester of the 2nd year, the Study Execution course (DHA-814) guides students through finalizing their doctoral project topic and research question. End goals of this course include identifying a doctoral project chair and completing the initial literature review.

Yes! We hope that students pick a topic that is relevant to their interests and career goals.

A minimum of 2 semesters of doctoral project work is required for graduation. On average, 78-90 percent of students finish within this accelerated timeframe. One year (3 semesters) of doctoral project work is considered on-time graduation for the DHA program.

Each doctoral project is led by a committee chair, who is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Healthcare Leadership and Management. In addition, you and your chair will identify two committee members. The committee members must have a terminal degree and one must serve as a subject matter expert.

Students are encouraged to utilize the MUSC services from the librarians and the Academic Center for Excellence Writing Center. Both services are available to provide consultations for online students. In addition to the support provided from the student’s project committee, each DHA student is entitled to 7 hours of statistical consultation from the department’s research faculty.

Yes, an optional doctoral project retreat is held within our department in November. The retreat is designed to help students make progress on their doctoral project. The primary goal of the retreat is to provide dedicated writing time, away from your work and other obligations. DHA faculty will be available for consultation and appointments can be made with librarians and writing-center experts during the retreat. The students also return to the MUSC campus at the conclusion of the project for the doctoral project defense.

Yes! Recent graduates have presented at conferences such as: Academy Health Annual Research Meeting; the American College of Healthcare Executives Annual Congress; the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting; the Association of Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Professionals Annual Conference; the Blood Centers of America Regional Meetings. Recent publications include:

Campbell, K., Gardner, A., Scott, D.J., Johnson, J., Harvey, J., & Kazley, A. (2023). Interprofessional staff perspectives on the adoption of or black box technology and simulations to improve patient safety: a multi-methods survey. Adv Simul 8, 24.
Tuan WJ, Jones J, Arnt B, Mellott M, Simpson AN. (2022). Assessing Disparities in the Use of Patient Portal among Adults in Family Medicine Clinics: A Retrospective Study Using Access Log Records. J Am Board Fam Med. Med. 35(3):559-569. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2022.03.210486.
Bottner, R., Harvey, J. Baysinger, A., Mason, K., Patel, S., Boulton, A., Christian, N., Walker, B., & Moriates, C. (2021). The development and implementation of a Buprenorphine Team (“The B-Team”) to treat hospitalized patients with opioid use disorder. Healthcare, 9(4).

Lai, J., Forney, L., Brinton, D. L., & Simpson, K. N. (2021). Drivers of Start-Up Delays in Global Randomized Clinical Trials. Therapeutic innovation & regulatory science, 55(1), 212–227.
Quiros JA, Andrews AL, Brinton D., Simpson KN, Simpson AN (2021). Insurance Type Influences Access to Biologics and Healthcare Utilization in Pediatric Crohn’s Disease. J. Crohn's & Colitis 360, 3(3).
Fitzgerald, D. C., Simpson, A. N., Baker, R. A., Wu, X., Zhang, M., Thompson, M. P., Paone, G., Delucia, A., & Likosky, D. S. (2020). Determinants of hospital variability in perioperative red blood cell transfusions during coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, S0022-5223(20)31128-4.
Jurdi, Z., Crosby, J., Harris, J, & Harvey, J. (2020).  A Closer Examination of the Patient Experience in the Ambulatory Space: A Retrospective Qualitative Comparison of Primary Care to Specialty Care Experiences. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 43(1): 89-97.
Karp EL, Freeman R, Simpson KN, & Simpson AN. (2019, Feb). Changes in Efficiency and Quality of Nursing Electronic Health Record Documentation After Implementation of an Admission Patient History Essential Data Set. Comput Inform Nurs. 2019 Feb 21. PubMed PMID: 30807297. Available at: