Online Associate Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration

The Most Affordable Paths & Career Potential in Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administration involves overseeing and managing the operation of health-related organizations and systems. Professionals in higher-level positions set the tone for long-term decisions, while lower-level workers focus on daily tasks and responsibilities. An associate degree in healthcare administration qualifies graduates for several roles in the healthcare field.

Earning a healthcare administration associate degree online equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in entry-level jobs. Salaries vary by job, but they typically average about $35,000 per year. This degree also provides foundational knowledge that can prepare you to go on and earn an advanced degree.

What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Healthcare Administration Program?

Healthcare administration jobs require professionals to understand pertinent health-focused management strategies and elements of organizational structure. You may choose to earn an associate of arts; this is the traditional choice for students who wish to eventually earn a bachelor's degree. Contrastingly, an associate of science focuses more on preparing you for the workforce by providing more practical coursework.

Classes in the first year of the program cover general education requirements, teaching students critical social and communication skills. The following year explores healthcare training, including classes in ethics, documentation management, processing financials, technology, the healthcare system, and fundamental anatomy.

Common Classes and Coursework

Global Business Perspectives

This course examines the operations of businesses in a global marketplace. Students may learn about financing, building relationships, business structures, and regulatory concerns. Programs often require a separate law course, but this class also emphasizes current legal dilemmas. Global business perspectives develops critical thinking, research, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Healthcare Ethics

Healthcare ethics examines issues affecting modern medicine. This course also emphasizes the importance of a patient's right to privacy regarding their medical condition. Students use case studies to explore methods for confronting difficult situations, including interacting with patients' families and legal boundaries.

Health Services and Systems

As the healthcare industry continues to experience technological advancements, mergers, and legislation reform, emerging professionals must understand new systems to provide effective management. This course also examines managed care, medical insurance, and scientific advantages. Other potential topics include the future of healthcare and the evolving practices of medicine.

Law

Most healthcare administration associate degree online programs include a law course emphasizing the protection of privacy. Students examine case studies in which healthcare organizations were sued. Other activities may include developing innovative approaches to prevent or resolve claims. Coursework covers healthcare antitrust laws, institutional liability, and contractual obligations.

Healthcare Financial Management

Students examine case studies to learn how healthcare organizations manage budgets. This course emphasizes financial concepts, but students also explore issues in management and learn about interacting with other stakeholders. By the end of this course, students should understand budget processes and dilemmas that can influence cash flow estimation.

Skills You Will Gain

By earning a healthcare administration associate degree online, you gain foundational knowledge and skills that can lead to employment directly after graduation or prepare you to enter a bachelor's program. Typically, healthcare administration programs emphasize the following skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving
  • Effective decision-making
  • Inquisition
  • Collaboration
  • Clear communication

Healthcare administration positions need professionals who stay current on laws, regulations, and organizational policies to reduce errors and improve the quality of care. The healthcare industry undergoes constant change, which presents new challenges on a daily basis. Therefore, employers prefer self-motivated candidates who understand how to identify problems and collaborate with others to resolve issues.

Employers also need candidates who demonstrate compassion, empathy, and a respect for privacy. Professionals often interact with multiple stakeholders, including patients and their families. Common workplace settings include hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.

Students who wish to further their education can pursue bachelor's degree options in healthcare administration; an associate degree may satisfy many of the lower-level education requirements of a bachelor's program.

Average Degree Length

On average, full-time students can complete a healthcare management associate degree online in two years. This degree typically requires 60-66 credits. However, students should understand which factors can influence a program's length. For instance, part-time enrollment may double the program length. Contrastingly, online programs sometimes provide accelerated program options, which function year round and utilize condensed course formats.

Students enrolled in traditional semester-based programs can sometimes shorten their program length by taking additional coursework during the summer. Additionally, schools may let learners overload on credits in order to graduate faster; students who wish to take more credits must speak with their counselor for approval.

Career Opportunities With an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration

The healthcare industry provides multiple career options. Aspiring professionals should consider which roles reflect their interests regarding day-to-day responsibilities, salary potential, and work environment. The following section explores five potential career options and includes information related to expected salaries, work environments, and details on typical responsibilities.

Students should note that earning a healthcare management associate degree online offers opportunities beyond the options listed below.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Students earning a healthcare administration associate degree online can gain access to multiple career options. As a result, their professional environments may vary. For instance, insurance verifiers often work in hospital settings or private physicians' offices, as they need to collect information from patients to collaborate with insurance companies. Medical records specialists may work in office settings or hospital departments, spending time on computers and traveling to medical offices to obtain pertinent documents.

The healthcare industry also relies heavily on the communication field. Customer service representatives may find work in the environments mentioned above, as well as at primary care facilities and outpatient care centers.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants engage in clinical and administrative work at multiple healthcare facilities. Daily tasks may include managing patients' documents and scheduling. While professionals can qualify with only a high school diploma, employers usually prefer candidates with formal training.

Average Annual Salary: $33,610

Medical Records Specialist

Medical records specialists improve efficiency in healthcare environments by collaborating with healthcare providers to manage pertinent patient information. This involves using company software and understanding privacy laws.

Average Annual Salary: $36,000

Insurance Verifier

Insurance verifiers manage patient claims and billing processes at hospitals or outpatient clinics. These professionals also work with insurance companies to verify procedure approvals. This role requires clear communication, efficiency, and attention to detail.

Average Annual Salary: $35,000

Customer Service Representatives

The healthcare industry relies on effective communication and meeting patient needs. Work environments include insurance offices, hospitals, and physician's offices. Daily tasks include answering patient questions, reviewing accounts, and recording information.

Average Annual Salary: $33,750

Medical Office Manager

Medical companies rely on effective and efficient office managers. These professionals handle daily operations, including accounts receivable, managing incumbents, and resolving problems. Employers also look for candidates with basic computer skills and knowledge of common medical software.

Average Annual Salary: $49,000

Five Healthcare Administration Scholarships to Apply For

Earning a healthcare administration associate degree online creates opportunities for higher salaries, but most students cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. Fortunately, many scholarships exist that can help offset costs. Scholarships may focus on merit or need, support specific causes, or target specific populations. Aid exists for students of all backgrounds and aspirations. The list below includes potential options for learners pursuing a healthcare administration degree.

Indian Health Service Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Since 1978, the IHS scholarship has provided funding to American Indian and Alaskan students who wish to earn degrees in the health industry. Many of these recipients return to and serve their own communities.
  • Amount: Varies


ACMPE Scholarship Fund

  • Who Can Apply: ACMPE provides funding to students earning degrees at the master's level or below. The fund supports multiple healthcare-related degrees, including public health and healthcare administration.
  • Amount: Varies


HealthGrad.com Leadership Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: This merit-based scholarship helps students earning healthcare administration degrees at any level. Students may only apply once a year. This scholarship requires an essay and a minimum 3.2 GPA.
  • Amount: $1,000


Samaritan Health Services Healthcare Education Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: These scholarships are available to learners studying health-related subjects up to the master's-degree level. Applicants who intend to work in Oregon or Arizona receive preference.
  • Amount: $1,000

Educational Advancement in Healthcare Administration

Earning a healthcare administration associate degree online can help individuals find a career in a growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of health manager positions to increase by 20% from 2016 through 2026. However, candidates may need a bachelor's degree or higher to qualify for many of these professions. The following section discusses how to transfer credits from an associate program to continue on and earn a bachelor's degree.

Should You Transfer to a Four-year Degree Program?

The best healthcare administration associate degree online programs allow students to quickly earn an accredited degree that qualifies them to enter the workforce or advance their education. Associate degrees typically cover general education requirements and fundamental subject knowledge. Many schools offer transfer options, and community colleges may maintain relationships with four-year institutions that allow students to transfer all of their credits.

Students should only consider appropriately accredited programs, and they should work with academic advisors to develop educational plans.

What Degree Paths Should You Consider?

Earning a healthcare administration associate degree online prepares graduates to enroll in many health-related bachelor's programs, although some students choose to continue along the administration educational path. The information below contains brief descriptions of advanced healthcare administration programs.

    Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration

    This degree prepares graduates for mid-level management positions that require professionals to manage daily operations of hospitals, clinics, or healthcare offices.

    MBA in Healthcare

    An MBA in healthcare qualifies graduates for high-level professional roles as hospital administrators or health policy managers. Candidates with a bachelor's and an associate in healthcare administration possess the knowledge and skills needed to enter this type of program.

Professional Organizations and Resources

The healthcare industry continues to change rapidly, and emerging professionals can benefit from joining organizations that provide access to key resources and new information. The list below details valuable resource sites and membership organizations that can help students and professionals excel.

American College of Healthcare Executives

For over 85 years, ACHE has advocated for healthcare management excellence. This organization boasts a vast network of 78 chapters. Each contributes to professional development at the local level.

American Hospital Association

As a national organization, AHA contains over 5,000 participating hospitals and over 43,000 members. AHA ensures that national health policy, legislation, and judicial concerns have a voice. Membership provides access to specialized resources, professional development, and other types of support.

American Public Health Association

APHA has spent over 150 years advocating for better public health services. Students gain access to a 25,000-member network of professionals and students, as well as research, scholarships, and practical experience.

Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals

AHCAP strives to strengthen healthcare delivery. This organization provides webinars, discussion forums, and resources to professionals. Members also gain access to a vast network of professionals at varying career levels.

Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education

CAHME strives to set measurable criteria for healthcare education. Students may use this site to ensure their programs meet CAHME standards. This site also provides information on scholarship funds and job opportunities.

HealthCare.gov

This government-regulated website offers regulatory and policy information, details about the Affordable Care Act, and contains FFM QHP landscape files. It also provides a directory of assisters and agents throughout the U.S.

Healthcare Leadership Council

HLC includes chief executives from every subcategory of the healthcare industry. Its website provides information about key issues and advocacy occuring in different regions. Professionals also benefit from the HLC blog, which discusses current events in the industry.

Health Resources & Services Administration

HRSA — part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — provides news, data, and legislative updates. This site also offers training and information about scholarships and grants.

Association of University Programs in Health Administration

AUPHA consists of a global network of students, faculty, and organizations working to improve the delivery of healthcare. Membership benefits include access to mentorship opportunities, job boards, AUPHA certification, scholarships, and digital resources.

Upsilon Phi Delta Honor Society

Since 1965, this organization has supported, recognized, and celebrated academic excellence in healthcare management. Students with a minimum 3.2 undergraduate GPA or a 3.5 graduate GPA may join their local chapter.