A Master’s in Health Administration prepares students of all backgrounds to take on more responsibility and leadership within the healthcare field. Coursework in these programs usually includes topics such as healthcare finance and policy, ethics, legalities and communications, ensuring successful graduates are ready to establish themselves as leaders within the field.
With shortages of clinical workers across the country, tightening economic concerns for healthcare facilities of all sizes and rapid evolution in medical technology, leaders in the industry must be ready to act quickly, protect patient rights and quality of care and take creative approaches to solving a wide range of problems. MHA degree programs help you master the skills and knowledge needed to meet these types of needs. With colleges across the country offering flexible online programs, existing healthcare and management professionals can work toward such a degree while continuing to grow and learn within their career environment.
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Health Administration?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in health care are expected to grow by approximately 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than all other occupations. An online master’s in health administration can prepare you for upper-level management and can put you a step ahead of applications without a college degree. Healthcare administrators are responsible for the management and oversight of healthcare organizations. This can range from hospitals and clinics to nursing homes and pharmaceutical companies. Because no two programs are alike, it’s important to do your research and find the online degree program that matches your goals.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Health Administration
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||POTENTIAL CAREERS FOR THIS CONCENTRATION|
|Health Care Ethics||Focuses on moral principles, beliefs and values that are involved when making decisions about health care. Classes may include medical ethics, health law and policy and moral reasoning.||Medical ethics professors, medical consultant, medical ethics lawyer, barrister, chaplain|
|Informatics||Bridge the gap between clinical work and IT. Classes focus on healthcare electronics, including the electronic storage of records.||Informatics nurse, clinical analyst, clinical informatics specialist, health informaticist, health informatics specialist|
|Operations||Students learn how to effectively manage and run a healthcare facility or organization.||Medical office administrator, medical executive assistant, health information, social and community service manager, healthcare human resources manager|
|Health Policy||Health policy includes classes on how management comes to decisions in a healthcare facility. Topics may include financing and delivery of health care, access to care, quality of care and implementation of health insurance plans.||Public health researcher, healthcare policy analyst, health service manager|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Health Administration
Core classes for an online master’s degree in health administration focus on the foundational principals of managing a healthcare facility. Core classes tend to be the same across all colleges, but electives will vary depending on the concentration. Some classes you are likely to encounter include:
|Strategic Human Resource Management||Analyzes human resources topics and fundamental regulatory processes in the healthcare industry.|
|Healthcare Financial Management||Provides students with the necessary accounting skills needed to run a healthcare business.|
|Global Health and Diversity||Classes detail what factors affect healthcare systems, including finances and political issues.|
|Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care||Legal issues that arise in health care and includes an overview of regulations and legislation.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Health Administration?
The online master’s degree in health administration varies from 36 to 48 credit hours, which takes about 18 months to two years to complete when taking classes full-time. Students on a fast track may complete the course in as little as a year, while those taking part-time classes may need as much as five years to complete the degree.
Classes may also follow a cohort model, which requires students to take courses in a specific order while following along with an assigned group. Cohort classes have a rigid time frame that can slow down the time of completion. Self-paced classes let the student take as many or as few classes at a time as they wish, which often speeds up the process.
Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Health Administration Prepares For
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Administration
To obtain an online master’s in health administration that future employers recognize, it’s important to check on a program’s accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation are two nationally accrediting bodies that assess a school’s degrees on academic and professional standards. Regional accreditation is obtained from one of several different organizations, depending on where the college or university is located. Regional accreditation is typically more prestigious and requires higher standards. Healthcare programs receive specialized accreditations from professional organizations like the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Administration Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
Health care is a specialized industry, and many career paths require a master’s degree in order to enter the field, including healthcare administration. Depending on the concentration, a master’s can open doors to advancement, including a potential doctorate degree.
An online master’s in health administration can boost your salary. Those in management roles can expect to earn as much as 17 percent more than undergraduates.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Geography can also play a vital role in your employment and your wages as a health service manager or an administrative service manager. The chart below shows the top paying metropolitan areas, respectively.
Metropolitan Areas with Highest Employment for Health Service Managers
Metropolitan Areas with Highest Employment for Administrative Service Managers
Source: Health Service Manager via BLS, Adminstration Service Managers via BLS
Based on your concentration, an online master’s in healthcare administration can open doors to a wide variety of career opportunities, especially for those who want to branch out.
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|Medical and Health Services Manager||Manage healthcare facilities or a specific department in a clinic or medical practice. They direct changes in response to healthcare laws, regulations and technology.||$98,350 per year||10%|
|Community Service Manager||Coordinate and supervise local social programs and community organizations. They most often work for nonprofit organizations and government agencies.||$64,100 per year||18%|
|Health Information Technician||Health Information Technicians organize and manage health information data. They make sure the information is accurate and secure in storage.||$39,180 per year||13%|
|Health Educators||Teach patients the behaviors that promote wellness. They typically work full-time in hospitals, doctor’s offices and nonprofit organizations.||$45,360 per year||16%|
Professional organizations provide valuable networking opportunities for those in healthcare administration. They can link you to potential employers and offer continuing education and industry updates. Consider some of the top professional organizations for those with a master’s in health administration.
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: The AAHAM is the leading professional organization for healthcare professionals. It offers continuing education, certification and advocacy for its members. The organization also offers regular training opportunities.
American College of Healthcare Executives: Provides graduates with connections to national and regional jobs and local educational programs. The organization also offers career advancement resources and volunteer opportunities for those who want to get more involved in the local community.
National Association of Healthcare Access Management: The NAHAM promotes the best practices, high standards and master expertise of healthcare professionals. The organization plays a role in establishing high-quality patient care through patient access services. The group offers networking events, educational opportunities and certification options.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Administration
Online master’s in health administration degrees are typically less expensive than their on-campus counterparts. In spite of the lower cost, students often still need assistance in paying for the degree program. Start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which matches you with loans, scholarships and grants available through the federal government. For additional assistance, many private and public organizations offer scholarships and fellowships for those seeking a career in health care. Consider the following resources.
Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship
Deadline: March 31
Eligibility: Open to minority students in a healthcare management graduate program who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, and preference is given to those who are student associates of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Bill and Mary Russell Scholarship
Deadline: July 1
Eligibility: Applicants must reside in a specific geographical area and pursue an education in clinical or patient care.
Corris Scholars Program Boyd
Deadline: April 18
Eligibility: Students must have applied and been accepted into an AUPHA full member master’s degree program and be a student of color with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also have U.S. citizenship or be a permanent resident.