With strong organizational skills and a desire to help people, it’s possible to work in the upper echelons of healthcare as a manager, administrator or executive. Online health service degree programs prepare individuals for successful careers in private medical practices, clinics and other healthcare facilities. This guide provides an overview of available degree programs and the steps involved in securing a job in this growing field.
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors
Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
Each college must have at least one online program 1
Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with
affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.
A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
Before enrolling in a health sciences degree program, prospective students must first consider all of the options available to them. Whether their interests lie in nutrition, healthcare management, or another area within this field, it’s important for prospective students to find a school that offers their desired concentration and level of study. Taking into consideration factors like cost of enrollment, class size and program count, we have listed the top health sciences
degrees and programs that are offered both online and on-campus to help students find the right school. Check out the top options for the 2018-2019 school year below.
Students who wish to earn an online Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration may do so at the University of Central Florida. By completing this 120-credit-hour degree, students can learn about the managerial aspect of the health care field. After graduation, students are prepared to land entry-level positions in hospitals, medical group practices, home
health care agencies and other types of health care organizations. Students will also be ready to earn advanced degrees in health services administration or related disciplines.
Independence University offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management that can be completed online in as little as 38 months. This degree is intended to prepare students to pursue careers in health care management. Students who enroll in this 180-credit hour program can expect to take business- and medical-focused courses such as Medical
Terminology for Health Care Professionals, Principles of Marketing and Introduction to Pharmacology. After graduation, students often work in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and other health care environments.
Brigham Young University-Idaho offers its students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration online. This degree, which will soon become certified by the Association of University Programs in Health Care Administration (AUPHA), consists of 120 credit hours and prepares students to pursue careers in management or administration at hospitals,
nursing homes, rehab facilities and other types of health care settings. Students can also opt to further their education and earn a master's degree in health care administration, hospital administration or business administration after completing this program.
At University of Alabama at Birmingham, students may enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management. This program can be completed entirely online and provides students with important knowledge of the health care industry so they can pursue careers as mid-level managers in settings such as hospitals and ambulatory care centers. Students may choose to specialize in 1 of the 5 following tracks:
clinical manager, general manager, pre-professional, long-term care administration, or health information or occupational therapy fast track. For admission consideration, prospective students must hold a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher.
At Minot State University, students can pursue a Health Management Science Minor online. This minor is 24 credit hours and is available to non-nursing majors. Its purpose is to educate students on how to make informed decisions on personal health management. Students who enroll in this minor must complete a required course
in stress management, which focuses on stress management techniques that can help achieve wellness. They are also required to choose from a variety of cultural diversity, developmental, health science and elective courses. Some examples of these courses include nutrition, ethnic and cultural diversity in America and pathophysiology.
At Weber State University, students can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration that is accredited by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. This program focuses on decision-making, individual and group behavior, the process of change, and organization design and culture. To be accepted, students must complete several prerequisites, including Medical
Terminology, Integrated Anatomy and Physiology, and the Health Care System. After completing this 120-credit degree with a 2.75 GPA or higher, students may land leadership positions in health care settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and skilled nursing facilities.
At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, students have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology online. This 61-credit degree offers 2 tracks: health information management, which focuses on the business side of health care, and health information technology, which trains
students on the technical aspect of health care. While the health information management prepares students to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator, or RHIA, exam, the health information technology track gets students ready for the Certified Professional in Health Information & Management Systems and other health IT certification exams. Prospective students who are interested in enrolling are required to have approximately 60 transferable college
credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA and complete prerequisite coursework in biology, college algebra and communications.
Towson University gives students the chance to pursue a fully online Bachelor of Technical and Professional Studies in Allied Health. This program is ideal for students who hold an associate degree in an allied health discipline as it can allow them to further their careers. There are 6 available tracks, including administration and management, advanced
respiratory therapy, family studies, education, science and professional preparation, and health promotion, wellness, prevention and community health education. While students are permitted to transfer up to 64 credits from regionally accredited community colleges, they are required to complete the non-completed core curriculum courses at Towson University.
University of Minnesota Crookston offers an online Bachelor of Applied Health. This 120-credit-hour program helps students learn how to be leaders in the health care industry. To enroll in this degree, students must complete an associate degree in a health care field. Several examples of required courses include Risk Management in Health Care,
Introduction to Health Information Systems and Decision Making in Health Management. After graduation, most students pursue careers in health care environments that value clinical expertise, such as allied health and governmental regulatory agencies.
Those interested in making a career in health services administration can start as early as high school by taking relevant courses and volunteering in healthcare environments. Those who pursue a degree in a medical field, such as by becoming a registered nurse, may be able to transition to health services administration fairly easily. Here is an example career path of a health administrator professional:
Exceled in information technology; volunteered at local hospital.
Online Bachelor’s Degree
Completed four-year bachelor’s degree in health administration.
Worked as night manager at 24-hour urgent care clinic.
Online Master’s Degree
Completed online master’s while continuing to work at clinic.
Took a job at regional hospital system managing outreach to rural populations.
Got promoted to executive role coordinating all outpatient programs between hospitals.
Completing Your Health Services Degree Online
Whether they work as an administrative professional in an office or as a floor nurse in a hospital, working people often need a flexible educational schedule to accommodate their jobs. Online programs in health services make it much easier for working professionals or busy parents to achieve their educational goals. Since these degrees generally require little if any labs or fieldwork, students can usually complete their degrees entirely online, working at their own pace as long as
they meet assignment deadlines.
The online degree program is typically comprised of online lectures and presentations, as well as a virtual dashboard where students can interact with instructors and other students. Participating in online discussion forums and submitting assignments through a dedicated portal are common elements of an online degree program, so students need to be comfortable communicating online, downloading materials for various projects, and conducting independent research on the Web.
Online Health Services Degrees by Level
Depending on the degree level, students should expect to spend at least two years, and up to seven, obtaining their education in healthcare services. Once all required courses are complete, some schools may assist with job placement opportunities and provide other resources to students.
Even though most employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in health services, individuals may be able to enter the field with an associate degree and some work experience in a healthcare setting. An associate of arts or associate of science degree encompasses basic healthcare administration skills, providing an overview of software used by many healthcare organizations, an introduction to medical terminology, and knowledge of basic business principles. The
two-year program can prepare students for a bachelor’s degree program later in their careers, or allow them to enter the field sooner with some training and foundational knowledge
A bachelor of science in health services administration is a comprehensive four-year degree program that prepares students for entry-level careers in the field. Students take courses that introduce healthcare administration and managed healthcare programs, as well as cover topics such as the evolution of healthcare delivery and ethics in the field. Most programs also include some business courses, such as financial management and business statistics. A natural science course
with a lab element may also be included; students may do the lab work on the school’s campus or at another location. In some cases, this component may be completed offline by submitting photographs and videos of hands-on projects.
A graduate degree in health services administration gives students the skills to conduct research and interpret data related to health policies. They learn how to make policy decisions that affect clinical care, and will work with advisers and mentors to complete a thesis. In most cases, students need to submit a thesis proposal by the end of the first year of the program. Advanced courses center on the economic and political environments of healthcare, healthcare policies,
and research studies.
Individuals who are interested in a leadership role in the field of healthcare administration, or who want to engage in scientific research, can complete a doctoral program that focuses on an area such as community health, healthcare administration, or public health policy. Programs typically include foundational courses, core courses in research, specialization courses and electives, and a dissertation; completing a master’s degree first can shorten the time needed to obtain
Learning Outcomes for Health Services Students
Online degree programs in health services administration usually include courses in general education and business—such as sociology, natural science and financial management—to give students a strong foundation for the specialized courses that follow. More advanced courses give graduates a strong grasp of current healthcare policies, decision-making processes, healthcare organizational structures, and healthcare management processes. Examples of courses available in various online
healthcare administration degree programs include:
An analysis of public healthcare policies that govern various organizations and institutions across the country. Students examine various policies in detail and evaluate their impact on how healthcare services are delivered.
A look at identifying target markets, developing healthcare marketing plans, and implementing marketing strategies across healthcare organizations. Students learn the key principles, strategies and methods for marketing healthcare services.
Data Analysis in Healthcare
Covers research methods and data analysis processes used in the healthcare field. Focuses on the skills necessary to formulate research hypotheses, review data critically, and conduct high-level research.
Leadership in Healthcare
Because many healthcare administrators and managers lead teams, this course trains students in the key principles of leadership in a healthcare organization.
Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare Management
This course outlines common issues encountered in various healthcare settings, both public and private, and explores effective ways to solve problems legally and without compromising ethical standards.
Online Programs Must-Have Checklist
Schools across the country offer accredited online health services degree programs; the student’s first task is to select one that is aligned with their educational, career and personal goals. Following are some things to consider when choosing an online health services program:
Decide which type of degree and level of education suits your career and personal goals. Undergraduate health sciences degrees allow graduates access to entry-level and mid-level jobs, while graduate-level students are prepared for leadership roles, teaching, and research-oriented positions.
Confirm that both the school and the program under consideration meet accreditation standards
Make sure you meet all academic requirements
Determine whether the school offers job-placement assistance programs, internships, or fellowship opportunities. Education and training can go a long way, but nothing compares to real-life work experience in health services.
Learn about support services available to online students, such as tech support, career services, and access to campus libraries or research facilities
Check financial aid and grant options available to online learners
Evaluate tuition costs and payment deadlines, including any travel costs for in-person requirements
Online Health Services Degree Program Accreditation
Accreditation is a vital factor in selecting a program, as it holds schools and individual programs to high standards and ensures a quality education. In today’s competitive job market, employers seek out candidates who have graduated from accredited institutions, and may not even consider those who have not. Students planning to enroll in a health services administration degree program should ensure the school is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH); graduate students should also look for programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).
Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
The Council on Education for Public Health accredits institutions that prepare graduates for public health practice in local, state, national and international settings. CEPH accreditation signifies that the school has maintained a high level of excellence in education and met all CEPH criteria.
Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is committed to advancing the quality of healthcare management education by setting criteria for educational standards, assisting and advising programs to ensure continual improvement, and accrediting graduate programs that meet or exceed the criteria.
Online Program Enrollment Timeline: Health Services
After high school, the educational track to enter the field of healthcare administration can take between two and seven years, depending on the level of education the student wants to pursue. Planning ahead from one step to the step is essential for successful completion of a program. Here is a closer look at a tentative online doctorate program enrollment timeline for interested students:
Time to Complete
Submit application for the Graduate Records Examinations (GREs) given in October.
9 to 10 months
Take GREs. Choose programs for application submittal
Submit requests for undergraduate transcripts to be sent to prospective programs. Request letters of recommendation from professors and other academic advisors.
File the FAFSA application and other required documents. Sit for department interviews.
5 to 6 months
Accept program of your choice and decline other offers.
3 to 4 months
Students interested in pursuing an education in health services administration can also take some extra steps to stand out to admissions committees. Beyond getting good grades, students can highlight their interest in the field by doing some of the following:
Network with peers, professors, and professionals in your area to learn more about the field and make connections that can lead to shining letters of recommendation.
Volunteer at a clinic or with a health-related agency such as the Red Cross or PATH over summers or semester breaks.
Take a standalone online class from a group such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the American Medical Association (AMA) to learn more about the field. Many classes are free.
Joining a student organization or club that focuses on public health demonstrates passion for the field and collaborative thinking. Taking leadership roles in such an organization is a major plus.
Health Services: Career Concentrations
Health service managers, administrators and executives are responsible for developing and executing strategies that help a healthcare organization run smoothly and achieve operational goals. They must have a comprehensive knowledge of healthcare laws and regulations, an understanding of current technologies, and strong communication and leadership skills. Most work in the offices of a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, nursing home, clinic, or a medical practice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth for medical and health services managers is expected to be much faster than average through 2024, with a projected increase of 17 percent. That translates to more than 56,000 jobs being added to the market, bringing plentiful opportunities for healthcare managers and executives. Those with advanced degrees and several years of experience may find the job forecast even brighter.
Within the field, professionals can specialize in a number of different areas or environments. For example, it’s possible to work for a government agency developing public health policy, for a major hospital focused on marketing strategies, or at a long-term care facility finding ways to deliver efficient, cost-effective care. Below are some example careers in the field.
National Median Annual Salary (2014)
Minimum Education & Licensure
Medical & Health Services Manager (Government)
Oversees operations of a military hospital, veteran’s hospital, or similar organization .
Medical & Health Services Manager (Hospitals)
Directs and coordinates medical and health services organizations and ensures compliance with laws and regulations.
Bachelor's Degree; state licensure to work in assisted-living facilities
Medical Administrative Assistant
Handles administrative tasks for a medical services administrator or executive.
High school diploma; executive secretaries may need bachelor’s degree and work experience
Social & Community Service Managers
Develops programs and services, manages budgets, and reviews effectiveness of various programs.
Bachelor's degree; some positions may require a master’s
Supervises nursing staff and implements appropriate training programs. May also develop systems for patient care initiatives.
Associate degree; RN license and training may be required
Individuals with a health services administration degree may choose to specialize in a certain field, such as nursing home administration, which may require state licensure. In addition, completing a certification program for professional development purposes can provide individuals with additional job skills and make them more relevant in the job market. Examples of certification programs include:
Designed for healthcare administrators with at least a bachelor’s degree, this certification requires candidates to pass the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management to advance to fellowship status, as well as to participate in various activities.
Individuals who work primarily with hospital accounts can seek this certification to boost their resumes.
Similar Online Public Health Programs
If a career as a health services administration professional sounds interesting but doesn’t feel like the perfect career path, consider other online public health programs that provide opportunities to help people and work in the health or wellness industry. Similar degree programs include:
Takes an in-depth look at theoretical and practical issues affecting the nation’s healthcare system, as well as common challenges that individuals and communities face. Graduate degrees prepare students for a career in teaching, counseling or consulting.
Studies food from a scientific perspective and how food affects the body. Programs prepare students to serve as nutritionists who advise individual clients or communities on how to meet their nutritional needs effectively and make sound choices at every stage of life.
Comprehensive, science-based programs that focus on human biology, quantitatie methods, nutrition, neuroscience and physiology. Students are prepared for careers in medicine, public health or research.