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What To Know About Health Doctoral Programs & Transfer Credit

The healthcare industry is advancing and expanding to meet the needs of ill and aging populations, as well as to improve ongoing wellness and disease prevention—particularly for people of diverse and historically underserved populations. As such, institutions seek highly qualified healthcare professionals who have earned a healthcare doctorate to improve healthcare effectiveness and advance leadership. 

It’s a big decision to pursue the highest level of education in any profession, and it’s not uncommon for people to not complete a doctoral program. But it’s never too late to get started, or to get back on track. Entering a doctoral program today could open exciting opportunities tomorrow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for medical and health service managers will grow by 18% by 2028. 

While pursuing a health doctorate requires a high-level of commitment, finishing a program may not be as daunting as it seems. The difference is finding a program that not only provides quality education, but also helps students save time and money through transfer credit. Chances are, if you’ve earned a master’s degree in a similar field, you can proactively reduce your doctoral course load.

Transfer credit is common and well-understood at the undergraduate level. But there are transfer credit opportunities at the doctorate level, which can transform the dream of a doctorate into a reality. The following is a guide for prospective students interested in pursuing a health doctorate but are unsure exactly how to take advantage of transfer credit opportunities.

Do Health Doctoral Programs Accept Transfer Credit?

Transfer credit for doctoral programs varies among institutions. Some have very strict and clear-cut regulations while others make decisions on a case-by-case basis. If information isn’t forthright on an institution’s website or through its application process, prospective students shouldn’t automatically assume that transfer credit isn’t available. 

"We want to make sure what we transfer in truly comes into the courses that we're teaching to make sure students receive a well-rounded education and that they are successful with the comprehensive exam and dissertation," said Sara Burris, Associate Director of Graduate and Doctoral Admissions at Franklin University.

When inquiring about transfer credit options, students should ask these questions:

  • What is your process for evaluating transfer credit?
  • What percentage of doctoral students receive transfer credit and how much?
  • What types of courses can be satisfied with transfer credit? 
  • Will transfer credits affect my funding eligibility?
  • Is there a letter grade I must have earned to receive transfer credit?
  • Is there a time limit for credits to be considered for transfer credit?

Regardless of a university's level of restrictions regarding transfer credits for doctoral programs, admissions counselors should be able to provide clear and valuable information about what students need to provide for transfer consideration.


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Types of Credits That Can Transfer Into a Health Doctorate Degree

Not all credits are created equal when transferring into a health doctoral program, and universities do this for a good reason. They have to maintain their standards of excellence, and not all previously earned credit is equal to what doctoral programs provide. At Franklin, the admissions department proactively works with prospective students to identify transfer credit opportunities while following detailed guidelines.

Here are some commonly considered transfer credits for a health doctorate.

  • Previous Doctoral Work: Coursework from the same or similar field of study at the doctoral level may be accepted depending on the course syllabi and grade earned by the student.
  • Master’s Credits: Assuming a student earned more than 32 credits, they may use previously earned master's level credits to satisfy elective requirements for a doctorate. 
  • Special Licenses and Certifications: While it's unlikely that special licenses and certifications will be approved for transfer credits for a health doctorate, it's worth it to present the information.

"To gain transfer credit, students must provide an official transcript from an accredited institution. Our team then reviews our database to see if other students before them have brought in credits from that school and class," said Burris. "If the classes are not in the database, we require syllabi to ensure the content matches 70% or higher to award credit."

Unlike other doctoral programs, health doctoral programs are less likely to grant credit for special licenses and certifications.   

Tips for Choosing Transfer-Friendly Healthcare Doctoral Programs

Choosing the right university to pursue or complete your healthcare doctoral program is an important decision. Earning transfer credits can help students get ahead of the curve, but it's just as important to choose a program that will guide you every step of the way. While some schools try to weed out students, others go above and beyond to support the unique needs of a doctoral student.

"We have a lot of students coming from other schools who get to the dissertation, and they're absolutely lost," said Burris. "The other schools don't provide the resources. So we make sure when a student starts, they will be successful and finish the program." 

Here are things to look for when comparing healthcare doctorate programs.

  • Study the Program Catalog: Course descriptions should apply to your field of interest, and frequently transfer credit eligibility is listed. Some programs, like Franklin University, offer up to 24 hours of previously earned credits.
  • Ask about Dissertation Support: Some programs integrate the dissertation process into the program curriculum. This approach improves a student's chances of earning a doctorate.
  • Seek Online Classes: Earn your degree around your schedule. Transfer credits plus online classes make it possible to earn a degree faster and around your schedule.

What to Look For In a Health Doctorate Program When Transferring

Franklin University is well-known for helping students reach their academic goals, and it starts with the introduction. Admissions advisors  know choosing a doctoral program is a challenging process, and they help set realistic expectations that set students on a path toward success. 

“From the first day a student is in classes, we provide a faculty advisor who takes the student from beginning to end to ensure they are on the right track for their dissertation,” said Burris.

When conducting your research, keep these features and benefits in mind.

  • Doctorate Completion Time: On average, a Ph.D. may take up to eight years to complete. An applied or professional doctorate typically takes four to six years to complete—however, this timing depends on the program design, the subject area you're studying, and the institution offering the program.
  • Personalized Coaching: Having a champion in your corner from the very start can make a world of difference. This coach can guide you on dissertation focus, keep you on schedule toward earning your degree, and troubleshoot challenges that may interrupt progress. 
  • Student Support: Access to information and research assistants are essential differentiating factors. Also, a community comprised of fellow doctoral students can help you stay motivated, increase your learning and expand your network. 

Earning a doctorate in healthcare is an honorable pursuit and choosing a supportive program makes all the difference. The right organization will open doors for leaders in the healthcare industry so they can reach the pinnacle of their professions. With generous transfer credits and an integrated dissertation process, Franklin may be the right choice for you.

Explore Franklin’s healthcare doctorate programs to see how a DHA degree or DNP degree can help you achieve your goals.

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