The job outlook for the healthcare administration field remains positive as the growing population of elderly individuals, or baby boomers, stay active, live longer and seek medical services to stay in the best shape possible long term. If you want to gain a competitive advantage in the field, you might benefit from earning an online master’s degree in healthcare management and administration. Find out what you can expect to learn in these types of degree programs, what careers they can lead to and the top-ranking online master’s programs for aspiring healthcare administrators.
The best online MPH programs incorporate both practical application and theoretical learning to prepare students to manage private health organizations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Take a peek at our rankings list below to find out which colleges and universities offer the best online MHA degree programs. For these rankings, we obtained our data from the United States Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDs) and the universities’ own published materials. All of the schools in our list are accredited.
An online MHA degree program teaches students mandatory skills for managing private health organizations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. These organizations range from hospitals to nursing homes, health insurance companies and even pharmaceutical companies.
Students in an online MHA degree program explore topics such as leadership, human resource management, professional development, decision-making and health care law. They may also study information systems, accounting systems and economics. Students also develop their knowledge of the various ethical standards, laws and regulations that exist in the modern medical industry. Students will lean actionable skills they can use in their new position in the healthcare field, including:
A master’s in healthcare administration and an MBA in healthcare management & administration both last about two years for students studying full-time. However, an MBA is designed for students who wish to master the business practices that apply to the healthcare field. Often, someone looking to start a health management career from the business side will choose the healthcare management & administration MBA, while a person who has been working in an active healthcare role for years will choose to earn their master’s in healthcare management and administration.
MBA degree programs cover information systems, technology, business strategy, management, marketing, economics, finance and accounting as related to healthcare. Meanwhile, an online master’s in healthcare administration degree program focuses specifically on how business relates to health care. Therefore, students cover topics such as scheduling in health care and health care laws. Completing this degree program is ideal for students who would like specialized roles as health care administrators, managed care analysts, health insurance administrators or healthcare consultants.
Take a look at these five sample courses that are common in any an online MHA degree program.
This course introduces students to the legal issues that healthcare administrators face in the modern medical field. Students also learn about the recent legislation and regulations that impact the industry, health care management ethical issues, and both organizational and personal liability.
This course introduces students to accounting principles that are used in healthcare settings, ranging from for-profit to nonprofit healthcare organizations. Students learn about cash flow, budgeting and the development of financial statements, among other topics.
In this course, students explore how healthcare markets function as well as how economic incentives affect decision-making in the healthcare field. Other topics covered in the course include forecasting expenditures as well as how managed care and the uninsured populace affect the industry.
This course prepares students to effectively manage organizational resources, including work descriptions and policies. Students also learn about concepts such as leadership, diversity, teambuilding and employee development.
Through this course, students develop an understanding of how U.S. healthcare works in terms of financing, its delivery and its organization. Students learn about how market competition and government regulation affect the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the key issues that face today’s physicians, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations.
An online master’s in healthcare administration degree program typically ends with a capstone thesis or course that allows students to show off the skills and knowledge they have acquired through the course. In addition to completing a comprehensive project, students may be required to complete practicums, where they receive hands-on training under experienced healthcare-field professionals at clinics and hospitals.
An online MHA degree program may give students the chance to select an aspect of healthcare management in which to specialize. For example, some students may choose to focus on survey research or child and maternal health. Meanwhile, other students may decide to specialize in environmental health science, health policies, health informatics, medical ethics, long-term care or acute care.
Take a look at these other common online MHA degree program specializations below.
This specialization provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to help organizations in the healthcare field to run efficiently. Students take courses on subjects such as marketing, finance, patient records and employee management.Service Organizations
With this specialization, students explore the methods, concepts and tools associated with the leadership and development of government agencies, private sector organizations and nonprofits in the healthcare industry. The specialization equips them to enhance these organizations’ daily operations and patient care as well as to streamline the systems used to deliver healthcare services.Health Policy
Students who choose this specialization are typically those who already have a strong background in business and healthcare administration. This concentration is ideal for health field professionals who desire to become leaders in today’s medical organizations.
An online master’s in healthcare administration degree program will give you the skills you need to succeed in various positions in the multifaceted health field. Take a look at some of them below.
These professionals supervise and conduct clinical trials. This involves managing clinical professionals during trial phases and developing progress reports that reflect the findings of the research team.Healthcare Consultant
These health field professionals perform research to pinpoint clients’ problems and discover potential solutions. These individuals also draft reports and conduct client meetings to share their solutions. Their clients are typically the managers of a variety of healthcare organizations.Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing home administrators are responsible for managing nursing home residents and supervising all departments’ operations. A nursing home administrator must understand relevant federal, state and local laws to ensure that his or her facility is in compliance with government quality-related requirements.Compliance Officer
In the healthcare setting, compliance officers handle issues dealing with compliance with regulations or laws. In addition, these officers ensure that their organizations are current with their licenses. These individuals can work for the companies they service or for contracting companies.
In addition to completing an online master’s in healthcare administration degree program, students may benefit from joining professional organizations, which will give them the opportunity to network in the industry. Here are a few key industry organizations that might be worth joining.
This association, also known as AHCAP, is a nonprofit organization specifically for healthcare administration professionals. Members of this association enjoy a variety of benefits, such as six complimentary webinars each year and tuition discounts for continuing education. Members can also participate in the association’s yearly conference.
This association, which has existed since 1980, exists for the benefit of today’s third-party administrators in medicine and health. Healthcare consultants, insurance providers and audit firms are all members of this association.
This association, established in 1968, oversees 30-plus chapters throughout the United States. It hosts an annual conference that nearly 600 exhibitors and members attend. The association also offers five certifications in areas such as compliance, revenue cycle and revenue integrity.
Since the healthcare management and administration field covers a wide range of industries, there are a variety of careers available to those with an MHA. The chart below shows the range of salaries currently earned in this field. Students should keep in mind, however, that different industries and positions may require additional training, certification, licensure or experience in addition to a master’s degree.
|Career||Lowest 10% Earned Annually||Median Annual Salary||Highest 10% Earned Annually||Job Growth 2016-2026|
|Medical and Health Services Manager, all industries||Less than $58,350||$98,359||More than $176,130||+20%|
|Medical and Health Services Manager, Hospitals||n/a||$107,230||n/a||+20%
*for all healthcare industries
|Medical and Health Services Manager, Government||n/a||$106,230||n/a||+20%
*for all healthcare industries
|Medical and Health Services Manager, Physician Offices||n/a||$89,760||n/a||+20%
*for all healthcare industries
|Medical and Health Services Manager, Nursing & Residential Care Facilities||n/a||$82,950||n/a||+20%
*for all healthcare industries
|Medical and Health Services Manager, Outpatient Care Centers||n/a||$89,910||n/a||+20%
*for all healthcare industries
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
As indicated in the above chart, the healthcare management and administration field will experience high demand for the next decade. This is partly due to the growing aging population, which will demand increasing healthcare and nursing care services over the next several years.
Note that there is a difference in salary depending on your degree. The median annual salary for a master’s degree in health/medical administrative services is $80,000, versus $55,000 with a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, earning an online master’s in healthcare administration degree could potentially lead to an additional $25,000 per year.
Students earning their master’s degree online should look for a school that is regionally or nationally accredited. Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities are offering quality education. In some situations, it also affects a student’s ability to transfer course credits from or to another institution, as well as his or her eligibility for federal financial aid. Students earning their online master’s in healthcare administration degree should look for colleges accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). CAHME is the sole accrediting body recognized for healthcare administration online degree programs. Note, though, that just a few online master’s degrees have earned this special accreditation.
Students pursuing an online master’s in healthcare administration degree may need a helping hand when it comes to paying for their programs. In addition to federal loans, scholarships are available for these students. Here are a few options available to master’s students in healthcare management & administration.
Many graduate students may be eligible for federal financial aid given through grants and other federal programs. Students should fill out a FASFA form to determine eligibility. Additionally, many employers may cover all or part of the cost of a graduate degree earned toward a relevant career path.
Students enrolled or enrolling in a master’s in healthcare management & administration program may be eligible for scholarships. Many colleges offer scholarships to students enrolled in healthcare sponsored by the school. However, there are other scholarships open to students nationally, such as:
This scholarship is available for $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 each year to three students who can write winning essays on significant issues impacting the current healthcare industry. Graduate students studying healthcare administration can apply as long as their school is a part of the American College of Healthcare Executive Higher Education Network.
This scholarship is awarded to minority students enrolled in their final year of a graduate healthcare management program. The scholarship awards up to 15 scholarships annually, and each scholarship is worth $5,000.