Why Earn a Master’s in Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare administration is a growing field with a need for healthcare administrators at every level, from clinics to hospitals. The appreciation for these positions is relatively new in this field and it is critical in eliminating time, materials, and labor waste in the healthcare industry to improve healthcare and the overall patient experience. Most people choose to pursue this degree as they gain invaluable, hands-on work experience in their preferred career path. Whether you wish to manage nurses or to create operational efficiency at a hospital, a master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA) is essential to your goals.
Healthcare Degree & Career Paths
Most industry professionals in healthcare administration are the first to say that you cannot advance your career without a master’s degree. If you have any sort of aspirations to managerial roles or higher, this degree is mandatory for most employers. It is possible that some smaller employers will advance someone with a bachelor’s degree and a significant amount of experience; however, if you have a master’s degree, you will far more easily beat out someone with a bachelor’s degree for nearly any healthcare administration position. If you specialize your MHA, you will gain even more credibility and you will make more money than those with a bachelor’s degree.
An MHA does have a few drawbacks early in your career. One of these is that you often still require hands-on work experience in the healthcare industry to obtain administration positions. With a bachelor’s degree, you can begin working right away to complete the required work experience while you’re working on your MHA. You can also spend time working in different areas of healthcare with your bachelor’s degree to determine the area in which you would like to specialize. This will help save you time and money when you start your master’s degree. Also, some healthcare careers will not benefit financially from a master’s degree. If you do not have management, executive, or C-level aspirations, an MHA may not be in your best interest in regard to your return on investment.
Overview of a Healthcare Administration Master's
What Healthcare Administration Master’s Degrees are Available?
- Master of Healthcare Administration
An MHA is probably the most common master’s degree in healthcare administration. They may be called a master in health services administration, a master in health administration management or something else similar. In the end, they are all the same degree with slightly different curriculums and titles. The programs will all center around a general education on healthcare management, leadership, and business.
- Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration
An MS in healthcare administration is similar to an MHA with slight variations on the focus of the degree programs. MS degrees are inherently more focused on analytical, technical, and scientific areas of a program. You will learn about the intricacies of management and leadership throughout healthcare institutions, including finance, data-driven decision making, quality and process improvement, critical thinking, strategic methodologies, human capital, and more.
- MBA in Healthcare Administration
An MBA in healthcare administration allows for program participants to acquire all the benefits of a business MBA with a few core courses in healthcare administration. You can also choose a dual degree program of a master in healthcare administration that leads to an MBA. This will often save you time and money while also having more courses in healthcare administration.
While each healthcare administration master’s degree program may have unique requirements, most will require a minimum GPA from your undergraduate degree. This minimum will likely also change between different colleges and universities. Additionally, if you do not meet the minimum you may be required to complete the GRE or GMAT graduate school exam and meet a minimum score of their choosing in place of your GPA. You will also require letters of recommendation, work experience in relevant fields, and a statement of purpose explaining your long-term professional goals and reasons for pursuing an MHA degree. Individuals from other countries where English is not the primary language will be required to complete the TOEFL or IELTS. It will also be beneficial to demonstrate your commitment to giving back to the community and to participate in extracurricular activities.
How long does it take to earn a Healthcare Administration Master’s?
The length of time it takes a person to complete a master’s degree in healthcare administration will depend entirely on the amount of time you are capable of dedicating to the program. It is important to note that these programs are often highly competitive, as the healthcare industry is limited in the number of available administration positions in comparison to medical professions, such as doctors, nurses, medical assistants, etc. Because of this competition, it is critical to take your applications seriously and to choose a program that is the right fit for your experience and future goals. These programs will vary between two and four years. While most programs are available online, it is important to note that you will still be required to complete some portions of a program in person.
Potential Careers in Healthcare Administration with a Master’s
- Medical Director
A medical director makes policies on the use and application of medicine in a hospital or department. They also evaluate the performance of employees in utilizing these protocols.
Average Income: $217,900
- Healthcare Program Director
A healthcare program director makes sure that projects which cross multiple departments go off without a hitch. They may also focus on specific systems or outcomes such as patient records systems or community engagement.
Average Income: $80,600
- Nursing Director
Nursing directors manage a large or small group of registered nurses and the care of patients. They will act as the liaison between physicians and the nurses to ensure all parties are being treated well and that concerns are conveyed in a positive and productive manner. You will also be required to be a registered nurse.
Average Income: $83,900
- Clinical Nutrition Manager
A clinical nutrition manager might work for a variety of employer types, such as for the community, other health professionals, patients, or families. You will address the nutritional concerns of your clients and work to develop an optimal strategy for implementation that will face the least resistance.
Average Income: $63,700
- Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
A CMO is the top healthcare administrator who manages the entire medical facility. They work with any number of individuals, including additional administration, the board of directors, and medical staff. A CMO must make decisions about operations, budgets, patient care, labor, as well as manage millions-billions of dollars in budgets.
Average Income: $291,600
Options to Advance
A master’s degree in healthcare administration will give you access to the highest positions in healthcare administration. If you are a registered nurse, this can lead to becoming a nursing director, then a program director, etc. Eventually, these positions can lead to a CMO position for the right candidate. You do not necessarily have to be a hands-on medical professional to become a healthcare administrator. Many positions are held by purely business professionals, as they are business positions. However, advancement will be easier if you continue your education with healthcare administration specializations. You can even become a healthcare entrepreneur with an MHA degree or pursue a career in education or research.
Best Master’s of Science in Healthcare Administration (MHA) Programs
The master of healthcare administration degree program at Cornell University focuses on both the public and private healthcare sectors to meet the needs of all participants. You will learn about both the healthcare industry and management. Ninety-two percent of graduates had full-time employment just one month after completing their degrees.
- MHA - Health Administration
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
At the University of Michigan, you will be able to pursue a few different master’s degrees in healthcare administration and certificates. You will be required to complete an internship for up to 12 weeks during a summer term that often leads to full-time job offers.
- Master of Health Services Administration
- Executive Master of Health Services Administration Program
- Certificate in Global Health - Health Management & Policy
- Certificate in Health Informatics
Johns Hopkins University
The prestigious Johns Hopkins University offers several healthcare administration master’s degrees with a variety of specializations, including health finance, management, health economics, and outcomes research. You will also be able to participate in an 11-month residency program at some of the most reputable healthcare companies in the country.
- Master of Health Administration
- Master of Health Science - Health Economics & Outcomes Research
- Master of Health Science - Health Finance and Management
- Master of Science in Public Health - Health Policy
The Xavier University master’s degree in health services administration (MHSA) is one of the best healthcare management programs in the country. You will be required to complete a full year residency in administration before you will be able to complete the program. The residency provides a generous stipend of $42,000 annually.
- Master of Health Service Administration
- Dual MHSA and MBA
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
The University of South Carolina offers a wide array of health administration graduate degrees. You will be trained and educated to manage issues in health services, create policy and public health programs, educate others, and conduct research. The programs focus on leadership and management, as well as the intricacies of healthcare systems.
- Master of Public Health - Health Services Policy and Management (MPH)
- Master of Public Administration / Master of Public Health - Health Services Policy and Management (MPA/MPH)
- Master of Social Work / Master of Public Health - Health Services Policy and Management (MSW/MPH)
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- MHA Professional Format
- Juris Doctorate / Master of Health Administration (JD/MHA dual degree)
- Ph.D. in Health Services Policy and Management
Traditional Schools Offering an MS in Healthcare Administration
Colorado State University
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Colorado State University ranks in the top 10 on a number of best master’s degrees in healthcare administration lists. This program helps you to make better decisions, develop strategies, work with human resources, educate you in healthcare alternatives, and much more. The program will also inform you of appropriate ethics, procedures, community involvement, industry trend awareness, and more.
- Master of Healthcare - Administration and Management
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
The Executive MHA degree at USC is designed specifically for individuals who are already healthcare administration professionals, either on the management or clinical side. This program was created to advance the careers of such professionals into more prestigious careers in the healthcare industry, with even greater responsibilities. It is also ideal for individuals looking to transition into healthcare.
- Executive Master of Health Administration
University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis has a few MHA programs. You can choose to pursue a pure MS in health administration, an MBA with health administration emphasis, or a dual degree program that will provide you with both in the end. You will learn about technologies, ethical issues, healthcare management, financials, and much more.
- Master of Science in Health Administration
- MBA - Specialization in Health Administration
- Dual Master of Science in Health Administration to MBA
The online MHA at Clarkson College allows program participants to complete the degree in an accelerated time frame. Courses will begin every six weeks to ensure you move through the program swiftly. You will learn about information assessment, business problems, critical thinking, and informed decision making. Each course also places emphasis on leadership. At the end of the program, you must complete a capstone project either in the form of research or a business plan.
- Master in Healthcare Administration
- Post-Master’s Certificate in Healthcare Administration
Seton Hall University
South Orange, New Jersey
You can take an online MHA degree program from Seton Hall University that focuses on ensuring program participants land management positions in the healthcare industry upon graduation. Students can have experience working in any facet of the industry, from insurance companies to retirement homes. The South Orange location of Seton Hall provides graduates access to thousands of career opportunities upon graduation.
- Master of Healthcare Administration