What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Health Services?

Health services professionals in management and administration ensure the facility and their team function effectively and provide the best patient care. An online master’s in health services administration program provides the training you need to tackle all sorts of administrative duties, including the various roles and competencies required in health care leadership positions. Gain in-depth knowledge of health practices, insurance policies, financial skills, human resource management, facilities management and other technical aspects of health services administrators. Some schools require previous professional experience before you can apply for the master’s program in health services administration. Compare curriculum, course offerings, admission requirements and program delivery to ensure you choose the right online master’s in health services program for your educational and professional goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Health Services

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION
Human Resources Management Covers techniques to improve staff efficiency and performance through job analysis, training and development, performance appraisal, labor relations, compensation and benefits management, and employee recruitment, retention, selection and placement processes. Human resources manager in health services, compensation or benefits manager, HR information systems manager, employee relations manager, labor relations manager
Long-Term Care Administration Provide a broad understanding of the long-term care sector, including clients and services, policy and industry perspectives and management of long-term care facilities. Long-term care facility manager, skilled nursing facility manager, long-term care facility administrator, hospice administrator
Health Care Management Operations Focuses on the practical skills needed in operations management, including operational issues primarily for hospital management operations but also applicable to other health care management environments. Health services manager, health care facility manager, health agency director

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Health Services

Most online master’s in health services administration programs allow you the freedom to customize your degree plan to your career goals through concentrations and electives. Many programs require an internship or capstone or research project that you may need to complete on-campus; however, some programs let you fulfill this requirement at your current workplace to accommodate working professionals. No matter your degree focus, many master’s programs in health services administration share similar core courses, which may include those listed below.

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Ethics in Human and Health Services Administration Covers ethics primarily in the context of multicultural health care and making ethical decisions related to supervision, management and clinical practices.
Courses in Strategic Planning and Evaluation Explore strategic planning, implementation skills and the evaluation process in a health and human services setting.
Legal Issues in Business and Clinical Decision-making Review legal concepts, principles and provisions of contracts, regulations, statutes and torts related to health care institution operations and administration procedures, including risk assessment, management strategies and compliance and fiduciary responsibilities.
Marketing and Strategic Planning Learn about market research through empirical techniques and analytical procedures.
Policy Analysis Examine the processes used to select the right policy analysis techniques and the best planning and implantation practices.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Health Services?

Depending on the program and the track you choose, online health services administration graduate students typically complete 30 credit hours, but some programs require 48 or more hours. Many programs are paced so even part-time student can earn their degree in two years, but many factors may alter this time frame. Most online programs cater to working professionals with courses delivered asynchronously, so you can study at your own pace. However, some programs are synchronous, which means courses are delivered cohort style and require you to progress through the program with other students at the same time. This format is less flexible and takes longer to finish. Look for individually paced, accelerated programs that allow year-round course enrollment to expedite your studies and help you transition quickly into the next stage of your career. Accelerated programs can often be completed in as little as 12 to 18 months.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Health Services Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management Certification AAHAM offers several professional certifications primarily for health service administrators involved in the revenue cycle or processing patient accounts. Requirements vary by certification, but your online master’s in health services helps prepare you to pass the exam to earn professional certification as a Certified Revenue Cycle Executive, Certified Revenue Cycle Professional, Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist and/or Certified Compliance Technician.
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Certification Two professional certification programs administered through HIMSS for health care information and management systems require a graduate degree and three years of information and management systems experience to sit for the exams. Emerging professionals should pursue the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems credential, while experienced professionals should pursue the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems credential.
Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management Certification PAHCOM created and administers the Certified Medical Manager credential for health care administration professionals in practice management for solo health care practitioners and small group physician practices. Eligibility requirements include a minimum of 12 post-secondary education credits related to health care administration or management. PAHCOM also administers the Health Information Technology: Certified Manager for Physician Practice for office managers who oversee the practice’s health information technology.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Services

To attain and maintain accreditation, colleges and universities must meet specific curricular and professional standards as outlined by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Alternately, some distance learning and online schools receive national accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission or the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. In addition to institutional accreditation, individual departments or degree programs may receive programmatic accreditation. Master’s in health services administration programs may hold specialized accreditation through field-specific organizations like the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Choosing an accredited school is vital to ensure you qualify for financial aid during your schooling and professional certification following graduation.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Services Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Pursuing an advanced degree in any health care field improves your employment and career advancement opportunities and earnings potential. An online master’s in health services administration is no different. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, professionals in health and medical administrative services with a bachelor’s degree earned a median salary of $55,000 in 2015 while those with a master’s earned $80,000.

Expected Salary

The health services field continues to expand, partially due to the growing needs of an aging baby boomer population. Every health services institution, from the smallest physician offices to the largest hospitals rely on well-educated administrators to keep their medical facilities operating smoothly. There are varying levels of responsibility that health services administrators assume based on their positions, which directly affects their salary as demonstrated below.

Source: PayScale.com

Like most careers, where a health services administrator works directly impacts job opportunities and salary rates. Cities with large populations often offer the highest number of jobs but not always the highest salaries as the following table illustrates.

State Number Employed Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 1,670 $143,710
New York 25,850 $136,770
Connecticut 5,440 $132,600
Delaware 1,010 $129,070
Massachusetts 13,770 $128,730
California 34,140 $122,500
Texas 23,740 $107,290
Ohio 15,330 $100,290
Pennsylvania 14,540 $96,400

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

Your online health services master’s degree provides you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a strong leader who effectively responds to the rapidly evolving health care industry. This prepares you to work in various heath care and medical settings. You might manage a single department or clinical area or an entire medical practice or facility. While hospitals employ 36 percent of health services managers, career opportunities also exist in physicians’ offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers and government agencies.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Medical and Health Services Managers Medical and health services managers plan, coordinate and manage medical and health care services at various medical practices and facilities. They also implement updates to ensure medical staff and facilities conform to changes in technology and health care regulations and laws. $98,350 per year 20%
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage data and records for medical facilities and ensure all information is categorized and coded accurately and accessible to the right personnel. $39,180 per year 13%
Social and Community Service Managers Social and community service managers coordinate and oversee the daily operations of community organizations and social service programs and supervise the people providing services to the public. $64,100 per year 18%

Professional Organizations

An online health services administration master’s degree gives you the knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen career. Joining professional organizations provides resources to further enhance your career. Many organizations offer valuable membership benefits, such as networking opportunities, industry updates, options for continuing education and professional certifications. Consider these notable organizations for recent graduates and current professionals in health services administration.

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: Join the AAHAM for beneficial career support, professional development and educational opportunities, including certification and awards programs, networking opportunities, a job bank, professional journals and industry news, product discounts and other members-only benefits.

National Association of Healthcare Access Management: NAHAM provides quality educational programming and interaction to its membership, which comprises health professionals managing patient access services. Some of the many benefits of membership include professional certification, publications, networking tools and opportunities, continuing education resources, annual conferences, a career center and legislative and regulatory updates.

American College of Healthcare Executives: ACHE offers forums and networks that allow members to connect with other professionals. It also supports professional development with certification programs, a job center, continuing education opportunities and other tools and resources to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Services

When comparing online health services master’s degree programs, evaluate tuition costs and financial aid options. Online programs are usually less expensive than traditional programs, but you may still need assistance financing your education. Start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for multiple grants and loans offered through the federal government. Educational institutions habitually use this form to confirm your eligibility for institutional scholarships. Health services students also often find private scholarships through community and professional organizations. Learn more about funding your schooling with the resources below.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Tylenol Scholarship

Award: $1,000-$10,000

Deadline: June

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled at an accredited college or university in health care related fields, including health care management and hospital administration.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Foundation Master’s Scholarship

Award: $5,000

Deadline: November

Eligibility: Master’s students enrolled in a program related to the health care information and technology field.

Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Award: $5,000

Deadline: March

Eligibility: Full-time minority students starting the final year of a graduate program in health care management, including a master’s in health care administration or similar program.

Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship

Award: $5,000

Deadline: March

Eligibility: Full-time graduate students in their final year of a health care management program, including a master’s in health care administration or similar program.