Best Online Master’s Degrees in Health Administration: 2016

  1. You are here:
  2. Home
  3. »
  4. Degrees
  5. »
  6. Master's Programs
  7. »
  8. Best Online Master’s Degrees in Health Administration: 2016
Advanced Programs, Careers & Salaries in Health Administration

The burgeoning healthcare sector has a significant influence on the U.S. economy; it currently accounts for roughly 15 percent of new jobs, and the strong growth rate is expected to continue into the next decade. The field needs individuals prepared to address complex issues in an ever-changing healthcare environment, and an advanced education is essential to fill those leadership positions. By teaching pertinent academic and professional skills, online master’s in health administration programs prepare graduates to succeed in advanced administration careers, with expanded opportunities for employment and higher salaries.

Timeline of an Online Master’s in Health Administration

Getting in: the Application Process

With tough competition for admission to the best online master’s health administration programs, the application process is a vital mechanism for prospective students to stand out from the crowd and ultimately be accepted. Most applications have several components, so it’s important to understand each one from the outset. Planning each step of the process in advance will ensure there is enough time to complete all of the necessary steps by the deadlines. The following list includes items that most schools require in their application process:

  • GRE scores.

    Although most programs ask students to submit recent scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), they may also accept scores from the Graduate Admissions Test (GMAT) or an equivalent standardized exam.

  • Transcripts (paper/electronic).

    Transcripts from undergraduate work should include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, with the student meeting a minimum GPA and fulfilling any prerequisite courses. Some schools may allow students to take prerequisite health administration courses the summer before enrollment or during the first semester.

  • Resume.

    The resume should include a student’s personal, professional and educational background as they pertain to their potential for success in an online health administration master’s program. Leadership skills are particularly important to highlight.

  • Statement of purpose.

    This written statement should demonstrate applicants’ professional and academic goals in the field of healthcare administration, and how they expect the degree program can specifically help fulfill those goals.

  • Letters of recommendation.

    Applicants should request letters from individuals who can address the applicant’s readiness for graduate-level work, work ethic, as well as leadership and communication skills.

  • Interview.

    Some master’s in health administration programs require applicants to attend an interview either in person or online.

Year 1

The first year of an online health administration master’s program sets a foundation for further study, and typically begins with an overview of U.S. health systems. Students take additional courses in areas such as healthcare administration fundamentals, budgeting and financing, and legal issues. The first year is also the time to consider which concentration to pursue the next year, and to meet with an adviser to ensure requirements are met for a timely graduation.

Year 2

During the second year of the program, students will choose a concentration and take courses in that area. Most curricula include a capstone course that allows students to put their skills and knowledge to work on a real-world, healthcare consulting project. Students also may need to complete an internship or postgraduate fellowship; most institutions have established internship programs, and online schools usually offer helpful planning and support services. Keep in mind that although two years of study is often sufficient for full-time students, those enrolled part-time may require up to three years to complete a master’s program in health administration.

Testing & Graduation Requirements

Following the completion of coursework, students are responsible for meeting any remaining graduation requirements. While colleges and universities want students to learn the necessary skills and knowledge for a successful career in health administration, that can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Most schools choose from the following when establishing graduate requirements for online health administration master’s programs:

  • Capstone project.

    Students complete a project within their area of concentration; they should anticipate a considerable amount of research to prepare their presentations, which are delivered at the end of the second year.

  • Internship or practicum.

    This field experience may take place in an administrative or clinical setting, and is designed to give students the chance to develop their managerial and leadership skills through hands-on learning. Schools often help online students find local internship opportunities at hospitals, clinics and medical offices.

  • Comprehensive exam.

    This exam will demonstrate a student’s ability to integrate knowledge across a variety of areas related to health administration and public health.

  • Research thesis.

    Designed to ensure that students can demonstrate their understanding of the core disciplines in health management, the thesis should reflect the specific knowledge, skills and abilities relevant to a student’s area of concentration. Students will also present their final papers to a committee in order to demonstrate competency in oral communication.

  • Certification.

    Certification is not mandatory but is available in many areas.

    • The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers certification in health information management or medical management.
    • The American College of Health Care Administrators offers the Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator distinctions.
    • Health insurance specialists may obtain Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Candidates must possess at least two years of prior work experience and pass a written examination. Another option is the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designation from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Search Online Master’s Degrees in Health Administration

Even after an initial evaluation for quality, there are so many options for pursuing an online master’s in health administration that trimming down the list can feel overwhelming. Students can make their jobs easier by selecting certain criteria and then filtering the results to get a side-by-side comparison. This search tool allows prospective students to search by degree level, school type, tuition costs, and student population to create a manageable list of schools.

Student Population:
School Type:
see map

The Return on a Master’s in Health Administration

The online master’s in health administration program teaches students how to navigate a professionally challenging environment, handling some of the most critical issues and problems facing our society. Those who hold a master’s degree can work for organizations directly involved in the delivery of healthcare, such as hospitals, or with support organizations such as insurance companies. While students will ultimately craft their own careers, the following concentrations are among the most popular options in an online health administration master’s program.

Concentrations
Financial Management

Whether students currently work in a finance area of a healthcare organization or want to enter the field through finance or accounting, this concentration prepares them with courses in accounting principles, budgeting and financial reporting.

Career:
Healthcare Financial Manager
Healthcare Financial Manager

Works with other managers and executives to ensure investors’ funds and company income promote financial goals. Responsible for maximizing profit and lowering overhead.

Health Insurance Specialist
Health Insurance Specialist

Processes medical claims, oversees medical coding, and maintains patient records.

Managed Care Executive
Managed Care Executive

Supervises the operations of healthcare systems designed to improve quality and reduce costs in the delivery of medical services. Also strives to improve operational efficiency for managed care companies or providers.

Hospital Management

This concentration prepares students to work as the professionals responsible for the day-to-day operations in a hospital. The curriculum emphasizes healthcare administration policies, financial management, operations, and business communication.

Career:
Managed Care Executive
Managed Care Executive

Supervises the operations of healthcare systems designed to improve quality and reduce costs in the delivery of medical services. Also strives to improve operational efficiency for managed care companies or providers.

Hospital Administrator
Hospital Administrator

Manages the daily operations of a hospital, clinic or public health agency, and coordinates departments to function seamlessly. Serves as a liaison to governing boards.

Patient Services Representative
Patient Services Representative

Advocates for patients by identifying concerns and ensuring their needs are met. Coordinates information from family members, medical personnel and administrative staff, and recommends appropriate community resources as patients navigate healthcare treatment.

Healthcare Management

Broader than the hospital management concentration, healthcare management prepares students for clinical leadership roles in a variety of healthcare organizations. The curriculum focuses on finding ways to address industry challenges, offering coursework in healthcare leadership, healthcare organizational strategy, and policy analysis.

Career:
Health Services Manager
Health Services Manager

Ensures healthcare facilities are run smoothly by setting and enforcing policies and procedures, managing human resources, and keeping and organizing records.

Managed Care Executive
Managed Care Executive

Supervises the operations of healthcare systems designed to improve quality and reduce costs in the delivery of medical services. Also strives to improve operational efficiency for managed care companies or providers.

Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing Home Administrator

Supervises the clinical and administrative affairs of nursing homes and related facilities by overseeing staff; handling financial matters; and managing facilities, equipment and supplies.

Healthcare Informatics

This evolving specialty applies information technology and communication to healthcare issues in the quest to improve the safety and quality of care. Students who choose this concentration learn about topics such as database development, relational data management, security, and privacy.

Career:
Health Information Technicians
Health Information Technicians

Receives patient forms, medical histories and test results from medical professionals, and reviews the data for accuracy. Plans how to organize and store data in electronic databases with a focus on confidentiality, especially in cases of sensitive information.

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

Reviews patient medical records and assigns codes to diagnoses and procedures so that facilities can bill insurance and third-party payers such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Healthcare Financial Manager
Healthcare Financial Manager

Works with other managers and executives to ensure investors’ funds and company income promote financial goals. Responsible for maximizing profit and lowering overhead.

Gerontology

The aging population in the U.S. is expected to increase over the next several decades, bringing new challenges to healthcare systems nationwide. With a curriculum that spans human services to economic and legal issues, this concentration takes into account the physical, emotional and cultural needs of older adults. Courses cover health law and ethics, as well as the biological and psychological aspects of aging.

Career:
Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing Home Administrator

Supervises the clinical and administrative affairs of nursing homes and related facilities by overseeing staff; handling financial matters; and managing facilities, equipment and supplies.

Home Care Coordinator
Home Care Coordinator

Provides resources and coordinates individualized care for older or disabled adults so that they can continue to live in their homes. Manages transportation; personal hygiene; meals; and health and wellness activities, and serves as a liaison to community services and resources.

Potential Salary Increases with a Master’s Degree

Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some entry-level jobs, more advanced positions in the field require additional education. By allowing students to increase their depth of knowledge in the administration of healthcare services and programs, a master’s degree program opens doors not only to a wider variety of careers, but also to more lucrative ones. According to PayScale.com, those who hold a master’s earn 25 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree, with six-figure earnings attainable for those at the top of the scale. Indeed, PayScale users with a bachelor’s degree in health administration reported earning between $32,035 and $80,000 annually, whereas master’s degree holders in the same area earned between $40,780 and $116,744. Below is the career outlook and average salary for just one of the professions open to professionals with a master’s degree in health administration: medical and health services manager.

Potential Growth 23%
Average salary $92,810

Additional Resources & Links

The following resources can be quite helpful to those in the realm of public health, whether they are aspiring students or have several years of experience behind them.

Best Online Master’s in Health Administration Degrees

Health administration is a competitive field, with master’s offerings from a growing number of institutions. For prospective students, the first step in pursuing an online master’s in health administration is to determine which school is the best fit. Narrowing down the choices makes the process less daunting, and a good place to start is by looking at how schools stack up in reputable rankings.

Check out our rankings of the Best Online Master’s in Health Administration Degrees for 2015-2016— and learn more about our methodology here.

RANK COLLEGE SCORE TEACHER/STUDENT RATIO COST GRADUATION RATE
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 100.00 13:1 90%
2 Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health 94.50 12:1 66%
3 Clarkson College 93.75 11:1 59%
4 Trinity University 91.75 9:1 81%
5 University of Southern California 91.00 9:1 91%
6 Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Harrisburg 90.50 14:1 67%
7 Jefferson College of Health Sciences 89.50 9:1 56%
8 University of South Carolina-Columbia 89.25 18:1 73%
8 Rutgers University-New Brunswick 89.25 16:1 81%
10 Carnegie Mellon University 88.75 10:1 88%
11 Western Carolina University 88.50 16:1 58%
11 University of Scranton 88.50 11:1 80%
13 Saint Joseph’s College of Maine 88.25 11:1 63%
14 University of Mississippi 88.00 18:1 61%
14 Ohio University-Main Campus 88.00 18:1 67%
16 Simmons College 87.75 10:1 67%
16 Adventist University of Health Sciences 87.75 9:1 35%
18 University of Denver 87.50 11:1 76%
19 Eastern University 87.25 11:1 61%
20 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 87.00 17:1 86%
21 University of Central Florida 86.75 31:1 70%
22 Park University 86.00 12:1 42%
23 Valparaiso University 85.75 12:1 67%
24 George Washington University 85.00 12:1 79%
24 Belhaven University 85.00 12:1 50%
26 University of St Francis 84.75 11:1 56%
26 King’s College 84.75 12:1 62%
28 The Sage Colleges 84.50 12:1 59%
29 Brenau University 84.25 11:1 47%
30 Franklin University 83.75 11:1 14%
30 Cleary University 83.75 12:1 45%
32 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 83.50 18:1 60%
32 Concordia University-Wisconsin 83.50 13:1 61%
34 Virginia Commonwealth University 83.25 17:1 59%
35 Salve Regina University 82.50 13:1 67%
36 Saint Joseph’s University 82.25 13:1 73%
37 University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne 82.00 12:1 50%
37 University of Illinois at Chicago 82.00 17:1 60%
39 University of Saint Mary 81.75 9:1 35%
39 Dallas Baptist University 81.75 13:1 55%
41 Wilmington University 81.25 14:1 35%
41 Northwest Christian University 81.25 15:1 66%
41 Midwestern State University 81.25 17:1 45%
41 Loyola University Chicago 81.25 14:1 73%
45 National Louis University 80.75 12:1 25%
45 Mount Vernon Nazarene University 80.75 14:1 58%
45 Mississippi College 80.75 15:1 54%
45 Indiana Wesleyan University 80.75 16:1 63%
49 Dakota State University 80.25 16:1 41%
50 Arkansas Tech University 80.00 20:1 45%