What is Healthcare Administration?
The healthcare field is a rapidly growing industry and there is a high demand for professional administrators. The healthcare administration field includes an array of job duties such as strategic planning, budgeting, regulatory compliance, and organizational development.
Health administration professionals play a crucial role in the booming field of healthcare. Rather than providing treatment and care, these administrators are responsible for the financial, managerial, logistical, legal, and operational aspects of healthcare. Essentially, they keep healthcare operations running smoothly so that doctors and nurses can provide exceptional care to patients.
Healthcare Administration Education in Massachusetts
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
There are lots of jobs in hospital, clinics, and care facilities open to applicants with a high school diploma or associate’s degree. However, a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution is a prerequisite for basically every health care administration job in Massachusetts. Luckily, degree options are available throughout the state and in a variety of formats to suit a student’s needs.
- Types of Undergraduate Programs
There is not a single title to describe the applicable degrees, and they may be designated differently depending on the school.
Look for some variation on these types of bachelor’s degrees:
- Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Health Administration
- Bachelor of Health Administration
- Health Admin Curriculum
Four-year programs typically require 120 credits to complete. The first two years of schooling focus on broad topics in healthcare, businesses, and management. The final two years are more directly focused on issues and ideas within health administration.
The specific curriculum is different in every program, but students can expect to take some combination of classes like these:
- Electronic Health Records
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare Delivery in the U.S.
- Healthcare Management
- Healthcare Ethics
- Healthcare Accounting
- Healthcare Marketing
- Public and Community Health
- Organizational Behavior
Bachelor’s degrees are available in-person, online, or in a hybrid environment. Typically, hands-on experience is not a graduation requirement, but some programs may require students to complete a practicum, internship, or capstone project in their final years of school.
One advantage of healthcare administration compared to other careers in medicine is that professional certification is not necessary. Unlike doctors, nurses, and other hands-on care providers, administrators do no need to be licensed by the state or any other body in order to begin working legally. That means new graduates are eligible for many healthcare administration jobs immediately after graduating or even while still in school.
Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
It’s possible to find full-time employment in health administration with only a bachelor’s degree. In order to advance, however, these professionals usually need to earn a master’s degree. Higher-level health administration jobs require specialized knowledge. Plus, they require the same kind of focus and commitment that graduate programs do.
- Types of Graduate Programs
Since master’s degree programs have a sharper focus, there is a greater variety of program options available. There are some highly specialized and esoteric options out there, but most executive health administrators have some form of one of these degrees:
- Master of Health Administration
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Public Administration
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management
- Master of Public Health
Admission to health administration graduate programs can be highly selective. Every institution sets its own criteria for acceptance, and students will typically need to provide some or all of these documents:
- Official copies of undergraduate transcripts
- Proof of a bachelor’s degree – an undergraduate degree in health administration is ideal, but many schools accept students from outside the discipline.
- Proof of a minimum GPA during undergrad.
- Proof of a minimum score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
- Descriptions of past work experience in healthcare.
- Letters of recommendation
- Courses for Completion
Students must complete 32-60 credits to graduate from most master’s programs. Full-time students can expect to meet this requirement in 2 years, but there some accelerated programs that make it possible to graduate faster. There are also certain specialties that take longer to complete. Finally, some schools offer hybrid bachelor’s/master’s programs that take 4-6 years to earn both degrees.
The curriculum varies widely between programs, but these are some of the most common courses:
- Statistical Reasoning
- Strategic Planning
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Administration
- Financial Management in Healthcare
- Human Resources in Healthcare
- Managing Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety
- Organizational Behavior and Management
- Healthcare Regulation
Most master’s degree programs culminate with a research project or comprehensive thesis. Students may also be asked to complete hands-on training at a hospital, clinic, non-profit, or other relevant organization. Working professionals can often find evening, weekend, or online classes that allow them to stay on the job while simultaneously working towards a degree.
A doctoral degree is typically not necessary, but a number of high-level healthcare administrators have one. The degree is usually in a very specific academic discipline related to organizational management or healthcare policy. There are also some administrators who come from the worlds of science and have a medical degree or some other technical background.
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
The health administration career and salary outlook is bright in the state of Massachusetts. Between 2014 and 2024 the demand for these professionals is projected to grow by 14%, jumping from 11,320 to 12,950. The median wage for a health administrator in Massachusetts was $132,960 in 2019, but the highest earners in the state make $158,380 or more.
This bright outlook is matched by data for the country as a whole. Between 2016 and 2026 the demand for healthcare administrators is expected to grow by 20%, which is much faster than the national average for all careers. During that period an additional 72,000 health administrators will enter the field, bringing the national total over 400,000.
Careers in health care administration offer lots of job opportunities, plenty of advancement potential, and generous compensation from the start. Discover how to plan, pursue and thrive in one of these careers in Massachusetts.
Having a degree is important, but it’s not the only thing recruiters are looking for when courting healthcare administration professionals. To give you a sense of what experience, education, and expertise actual working professionals have, consider some recent postings for health administration jobs in Massachusetts. These positions were open as of July 2018, but there is no guarantee they are still open or that any job seeker is assured of a position:
- Cancer Center Practice Manager, Palmer, MA An acute-care hospital with 150 beds is looking for a health administrator to take over daily oversight and administrative duties of its oncology department. Duties include drafting policies, supporting staff, handling customer service, and improving quality metrics. The ideal candidate has previous experience working in an oncology setting.
- Director of Operations, Holyoke, MA A nursing facility for retired veterans is looking for an experienced healthcare administrator to direct daily operations. The professional in this role will specifically supervise maintenance, housekeeping, and security operations while serving as part of the leadership team. The ideal candidate has 5+ years of administrative experience, at least a bachelor’s degree, and familiarity with project management.
- Medicaid Operations Director, Boston, MA A call center with over 400 employees is looking to hire a health administrator to take on a key executive role. This person will oversee all aspects of operations with a particular emphasis on staying current with changes in the Massachusetts Medicaid and healthcare rules. The ideal candidate has a master’s degree, 10+ years’ experience managing a customer service center, and experience in healthcare administration.
- Project Manager, Boston, MA A children’s hospital is looking to hire a project manager to handle initiatives related to patient safety and quality. The project manager will work with physicians and stakeholders to develop guidelines, then work with staff to ensure those guidelines are implemented. The ideal candidate has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management, 5+ years of relevant experience, and a history of successful project management.
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has a strong economy and one of the most innovative healthcare systems in the country. That is part of why demand for health administrators is growing, and it means there are a number of major employers located within the state. Job prospects are available throughout Massachusetts in both large/small and urban/rural settings.
However, these are the largest healthcare administration employers in the area:
- Partners HealthCare in Boston, MA
- Steward Health Care System in Boston, MA
- UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, MA
- Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA
- Bringham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA
- Phillips Healthcare in Andover, MA
- Tufts Health Plan in Watertown, MA
Health Administration Associations
Getting the right education and experience are important for advancing a career in healthcare administration, but so is participation in professional associations. These groups provide information, education, resources, and connections that help professionals excel at what they do while moving up the career ladder.
Here are a few to consider participating in:
- Healthcare Management Association of Massachusetts
- American College of Healthcare Executive of Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association
- Massachusetts Society for Healthcare Risk Management
- Massachusetts Association of Patient Account Management
- Massachusetts Public Health Association
- Massachusetts Association of Community Health
- Massachusetts Medical Society