The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic industries in the nation today. The aging population plus increased access to care has benefited professionals everywhere. Where healthcare administration professionals used to adapt their MBA coursework to fit the specific needs of healthcare, there are now graduate degree programs specifically aimed towards generating the most focused and knowledgeable professionals possible in this profession.
Whether you are seeking an MBA with a concentration in healthcare, or a master's degree in healthcare management, this page is for you. Here you will learn all about how a graduate degree will impact your healthcare career for the better.
Healthcare Degrees & Career Paths
There are numerous advantages to earning a master’s degree in healthcare management. One of the chief benefits is that you will learn much more about your industry and how it works. Your coursework will help you become more effective as an administrator and leader. The degree also paves the way to success through improved skillsets and better resumes.
When you graduate from a master’s degree program, you'll soon find that the doors of opportunity start to open wider than they did before. Upper management, and even c-level jobs, will be within your reach. Naturally, that will include everything that comes with it such as added responsibility, higher salary, improved benefits packages, and healthy year-end bonuses.
Your degree also opens up more possibilities for leadership in industry associations. You might be asked to speak at regional and national conferences or write articles that reflect your positions on various healthcare matters. Thus, your career may take on a new dimension. Your expertise may have a broad, even national, impact on healthcare administrators and patients.
While there are many positive aspects to earning a master’s degree in healthcare management, there are also downsides. One of the biggest detractors to a graduate degree is the cost. Professional degrees are not cheap and there is never any true guarantee that your investment will pay off in terms of higher salary or even a promotion. Further, if you cover the up-front costs with student loans, those costs will soon grow when compounded interest rates are applied.
There is also a significant amount of time and energy that goes into achieving a master’s degree. If you continue working full-time, you may have to sacrifice much, if not all, of your family and leisure time for the sake of studying and coursework. Even if you’re able to attend school full-time without the burden of work, you will still be very busy.
These negative aspects of a master’s degree can be overcome, however. If you make a clear plan for time and financial management, you can navigate graduate school and emerge a better-educated, more successful professional.
Overview of a Master’s in Healthcare Management
What Healthcare Management Graduate Degrees are Available?
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management:
An MS will focus on courses such as finance, public health, and the statistics involved in managing healthcare systems. However, some MS programs are lighter on these analytical topics than others.
- Master of Arts in Healthcare Management:
Though this degree is sometimes hard to distinguish from an MS, your work in an MA program might have more of a focus on topics such as management, communications, and leadership.
- MBA with a Concentration in Healthcare Management:
This is a popular choice because it blends a core MBA curriculum with specialized coursework in healthcare. The advantage here is that approximately half of your coursework will be applicable to any sort of business situation, which might prove useful in you later career. For instance, a working knowledge of corporate finance may prove helpful if your health system decides to purchase or merge with another.
- Master of Healthcare Administration:
The MHA degree has evolved as something of a response to the ever-popular MBA. The only downside to this degree is that you'll graduate with a view of the industry that is all-encompassing, but you may not have the focus necessary to get into management of sub-interest departments.
Admission Requirements to Enter a Master’s Healthcare Management Degree Program
Once you have decided to embark on a master's degree in healthcare management, you will have to gain admission to a program. Depending on your program, you may need to provide scores from a graduate admissions examination such as the GRE or GMAT. However, these tests are somewhat falling out of favor. You will also need to provide official transcripts from every college or university you've attended. You may need to provide letters of recommendation from supervisors and past professors. For those who have professional experience, your resume will be required as well as an admission essay that details how you intend to apply your graduate degree in the healthcare industry.
How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management?
Though every program is a bit different, most master's degree programs in healthcare management are structured to take around two years to complete. This assumes that you are able to attend full-time. If you are taking courses on a part-time basis, you might take three or more years.
However, many programs are structured to help students expedite their studies and graduate in two years or less. You'll surely find many accelerated programs, which can be intense, but the short-term pain will be worth it when you quicken your rise to the top.
Potential Careers in Healthcare Management with a Master’s Degree
- Hospital Administrator:
This is a very important position that will involve tasks such as budgeting, public relations, managing daily operations, and overseeing fundraisers, among other responsibilities. Hospital administrators are responsible for every aspect of a hospital's operation. Thus, you will need to maintain clear and open communication channels between yourself and each department, as well as facilitating inter-departmental communications. A graduate degree that prepares you to address all of the various issues involved in the operation of such a complex organization will be invaluable. For all of that work, hospital administrators earn an average salary of $87,000, not including bonuses and benefits.
- Healthcare Manager:
Professionals in this position are often in charge of specific departments or clinics within a larger healthcare system. You will also need to be able to work within a budget and help develop business strategies. To attain this position, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in healthcare management, but a master's degree will make you all the more effective. According to Payscale.com, healthcare managers earn an average salary of $65,000 before bonuses and benefits.
- Clinical Director:
In this position, you will be charged with coordinating the short and long-term operations of a clinic, or even a group of clinics. You must have a full, working knowledge of billing systems, budgeting, and be able to coordinate your staff. Clinical directors must be able to create effective schedules, facilitate communications between employees, and negotiate deals with the vendors who supply equipment to the clinic. Clinical directors earn an average annual salary of $77,000 before bonuses and benefits.
- Chief Executive Officer:
The CEO is the head of a health system. You might achieve this position after years working as a hospital administrator. Many CEOs are charged with a complex network of clinics, labs, and hospitals that fall under their corporate umbrella. The pay for a CEO is usually quite high because of this. Since a CEO's duties and responsibilities often fall more in the traditional business world than that of healthcare, you might consider an MBA or perhaps graduate certificates that address corporate finance, marketing, and organizational management. CEOs earn an average salary of $155,000 before bonuses, stock options, and benefits.
Options to Advance
If you are working in healthcare administration and want to advance into management or beyond, you will probably need more training. One option is to seek out a graduate certificate program that focuses on your specific area of expertise. There are many options available such as certificate in marketing, clinical informatics, finance, communications, and management. Each of these specialty certificates can be found with a healthcare focus. Make sure to earn your certificate from a nationally accredited program and that the degrees they offer are appealing.
Your additional training will give you an edge and open up more possibilities within your daily duties, but a full degree will be even more helpful. The good news is that your graduate certificate will provide credits that can be applied toward an eventual master's degree. If you apply this strategy, your education will span a longer period of time but you will have met certain useful goals along the way.
Colleges That Offer Traditional Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Management
Oregon Health & Science University / Portland State University
Students in OHSU/PSU's program will emerge with a degree that stands for excellence in management, policy, finance, strategy, economics, and ethics. In fact, since OHSU is a teaching hospital, students will find ample opportunities to apply their knowledge.
- Master of Public Health - Biostatistics
- Master of Public Health – Health Management and Policy
Texas Tech University
Texas has many great universities, but Texas Tech offers top-notch degree programs for healthcare professionals. Undergraduates can start with a BA in Healthcare Management and then continue on to a Master of Science or an MBA program tailored to produce excellence in healthcare management and administration.
- Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
- MBA – Health Organization Management
Harvard's Master in Healthcare Management program is tailored towards physicians who are transitioning away from the clinical side of the industry to the administrative. The program is tailored toward working professionals and can be completed in two years on a part-time schedule.
- Master in Healthcare Management
- MBA - Healthcare Concentration
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to advance their business skills along with their work in informatics. Students can continue to work, if they choose, as the program is conducted in a hybrid fashion – partly online and partly on campus.
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management and Informatics
New York, NY
Columbia is one of the top universities in the nation, with a top medical college. Health administration students will thus have ample opportunities to gain exposure to both the clinical and administrative sides of the healthcare industry.
- Master of Health Administration
- MBA – Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management
Colleges That Offer Online Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Management
Capella's online degree programs are among the best available. Students can continue working while taking advantage of some of the best instruction in the country. For those who have the focus and determination, Capella's program can be completed in 12 months.
- MBA – Health Care Management
- Master of Health Administration
Rasmussen offers graduate students the possibility of graduating with an advanced degree in as few as 18 months. Students pursue careers in positions as clinical directors, hospital administrators, and practice managers. Few colleges offer as much flexibility as Rasmussen.
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Human Resources Management
University of Arizona Online
University of Arizona now offers its top notch academic programs online. Students from Maine to Hawaii can enroll and earn a Master of Science in Healthcare Management. UA attracts some of the nation's top faculty and provides plenty of options for working healthcare professionals.
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management
- Master of Business Administration
Purdue Global brings the excellence of the Purdue University to the online environment. Their degree programs are as diverse as they are numerous. For aspiring healthcare leaders, there are two graduate degree programs that will launch them to the c-suites in no time.
- Master of Business Administration – Health Care Management
- Master of Healthcare Administration
Rutgers University in New Jersey now offers its academic excellence to the online community. Whether students choose to concentrate in informatics, management & leadership, or behavioral health, their graduate degree will bring their career to the next level.
- Master of Science in Health Care Management
- Master of Science in Health Informatics