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DHA Program FAQs

Applying to the Program

Do I need a degree before I enter the DHA program?

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

Is the GRE or GMAT required for admission?

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

Which track is right for me?

We would be happy to review your resume and discuss the track options with you. In general, those who have had prior coursework in finance or accounting apply for the Health Administrators track. Those who have not had prior coursework in finance or management, apply for the Health Professionals track.

What is the tuition rate and what does it cover?

Academic charges for the current academic cycle can be found at https://education.musc.edu/students/enrollment/bulletin/tuition-and-fees. Tuition and fees do not include travel expenses to Charleston for the on-campus sessions or books.

Is financial aid available?

Yes, financial aid services are available.

When can I apply?

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.

What scholarships are available?

DHA students are eligible to apply for our College of Health Professions scholarships https://education.musc.edu/colleges/health-professions/current-students/scholarships. In addition, we encourage students to explore scholarship opportunities through their professional organizations, community, and employer.

About the Program

How is the DHA degree different than a Ph.D.?

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.

What are the differences between the two tracks of the DHA degree?

The DHA program is a single degree, with two tracks that are the entry point into the DHA program and reflect the student’s prior education and work experience.

The DHA curriculum is comprised of:

1) core courses, which are taken by all students

2) track specific courses in management and finance that build upon the student’s prior education and work experience

3) electives

The "Health Administrator" track of the DHA program is designed to meet the intellectual and career development needs of health care administration and health policy executives who are currently engaged as leaders.

The “Health Professional” track of the DHA program focuses on the development of interprofessional healthcare leaders. Students will have healthcare experience such as, practicing clinicians, information systems/information technology experts, or quality improvement leaders who currently hold or who are seeking leadership positions.

What happened to the Executive, Interprofessional, and Information Systems Tracks?

The tracks were renamed in the spring of 2019. The Executive track is now called “Health Administrator” and the Interprofessional and Information Systems tracks are now called “Health Professional”.

How long is the program?

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.

Can I work while I am in the DHA program?

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.

Is the program fully online?

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 3-4 day session. However, the spring semester of the 2nd year, the Charleston visit is replaced by the policy trip to Washington DC.

What if I cannot make it to a DHA on-campus session because of a work conflict?

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

Are course requirements asynchronous or flexible?

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 WebEx or Skype 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.

Are there a lot of tests?

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

How does a doctoral project differ from a Ph.D. dissertation?

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.

When do I begin the doctoral project?

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.

Do I get to pick my doctoral project topic?

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

How long does the doctoral project take?

A minimum of 2 semesters of doctoral project work is required for graduation. On average, 50-70 percent of students finish within this accelerated time-frame. One year (3 semesters) of doctoral project work is considered on-time graduation for the DHA program.

Who do I work with on my doctoral project?

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.

What other resources are available to assist during the doctoral project?

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.

Do I come to MUSC in Charleston for any part of the doctoral project?

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.

Can I present or publish my doctoral work?

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:

Belanger, K., Simpson, K., Amitage, J., & Cerden, R. (2018). The effect on blood supply when implementing donor interval strategies to prevent iron deficiency. Medical Laboratory Observer Journal, Available at: https://www.mlo-online.com/continuing-education/article/13017075/the-effect-on-blood-supply-when-implementing-donor-interval-strategies-to-prevent-iron-deficiency

Fine, S, Loheide, L, Simpson, KN, Kazley, AS, and Clarke, R. (December 2010). Tele-Intensivist Coverage of the Community Hospital ICU: Feasibility, Costs, and Consequences. HFMA Magazine.

Hernandez-Tejada, MA, Zoller, JS, Ruggiero, KJ, Kazley, AS, and Acierno, R. (2014). Early Treatment Withdrawal from Evidence-Based Psychotherapy for PTSD: Telemedicine and In-
Person Parameters. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, Vol. 48: 33-55. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25354925

Karp EL, Freeman R, Simpson KN, & Simpson AN. (2019). Changes in Efficiency and Quality of Nursing Electronic Health Record Documentation After Implementation of an Admission Patient History Essential Data Set. Computers, Informormatics, Nursing. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30807297. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30807297

Moore, BR., Simpson, KN., Kay, W., and Kazley, AS. (2010). Piloting a method to measure satisfaction with HIV care. American Journal of Medical Quality. 25(5): 384-91. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20833985

Sanders, RB, Simpson, KN, Kazley, AS, Giarrizzi, DP. (2014). New hospital telemedicine services: potential market for nighttime telehospitalist service, 20(10): 902-8. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=New+hospital+telemedicine+services%3A+potential+market+for+nighttime+telehospitalist+servic

Shoemaker, L, Kazley, AS, and White, A. (2010). Making the Case for Evidence-based design. A descriptive case study of decision making. Health Environments, Research and Design Journal, 4(1): 22-41. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21162429

Smith, A., Zoller, J., Schumock, G., & Richards, A. (2018). Pharmacy staffing, workload, and productivity benchmarks in state psychiatric hospitals. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 75(8): 536-547. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/ajhp/article/75/8/536/5102344

Stanowski, AC., Simpson, K., White, A. (2015). Pay for performance: Are hospitals becoming more efficient in improving their patient experience. Journal of Healthcare Management, 60(4): 268-286. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26364350

Tennessee, AM, Bradham, TS, White, BM, & Simpson, KN. (2017). The monetary cost of sexual assault to privately insured US women in 2013. American Journal of Public Health, 107(6): 983-988. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28426319